Mary Magdalene: Film Review

Mary Magdalene is a difficult one to review because it isn’t going to appeal to everyone – and I am definitely not this film’s target market. While it is informative and interesting at times, it is very slow and I can’t say I actively enjoyed it.

This serves as a biopic on Mary Magdalene, who was characterised as a prostitute for hundred of years until 2016, when Pope Francis declared that she was an apostle, and one who bore witness to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Rooney Mara stars as Mary, who refuses to marry, leading her family to think she has the devil inside her. She knows she’s made for a different life, so she jumps at the chance to leave home when Jesus (Joaquin Phoenix) and his apostles pass through – she knows she’s found her calling. She travels with them and spreads his message until they reach their destination, Jerusalem.

I think how much you like Mary Magdalene really depends on your religious stance. For instance, I think a religious person may appreciate it far more than those who aren’t particularly religious and have no clue about her (like me). Religious films are generally not my bag but I tried to go in with as much of an open mind as possible but it is slow and a lot of hard work. Some points are interesting and I learned things so it would definitely be a good film to show in schools, but it’s hard to enjoy as a regular piece of cinema and it will not appeal to a mainstream audience.

Mara puts in an impressive performance, one which is mostly expressed through her face than her words. We don’t get to know Mary with much depth though. She is supported well by the likes of Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tahar Rahim as Peter and Judas, who believe Mary’s, the only female’s, presence in the group weakens Jesus and his healing powers. Phoenix as Jesus is fine but I can’t rave about it.

I don’t think it’s the subject matter that got me down the most – it was just so slow-moving; it really did drag and the actors don’t speak a ton so there is a lot of silence that will test anyone’s ability to stay awake. It seemed much longer than its two hour run time and could have done with a slight trim as there were plenty of scenes were not much happened.

Mary Magdalene is not a bad film – it’s a well-made film with an excellent cast that I just did not enjoy. I can appreciate Garth Davis and his film, which looked beautiful often, but it’s not one I’m in a hurry to see again.

In cinemas now 

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