As if one bearded Joaquin Phoenix wasn’t enough this month; after his turn in ‘You Were Never Really Here’ his garish chin-bush now playing Jesus.
A feminist, so feminist in fact, that this sometimes moving, sometimes rather dull RE lesson isn’t even about him, it’s about his most famous female follower, Mary Magdalene, played by the impressive Rooney Mara. Mary Magdalene has long been misidentified as a prostitute; Garth Davis (Lion) sets out to revise this myth, showing a version of the New Testament in an empowering light.
Harvey Weinstein producer credit aside, this version of Mary is a fearsomely chaste young woman who distresses her family of Galilean fishing folk by declining to take a husband. Her purity is such that, had the title not been taken, she might have nabbed “Virgin Mary” for herself.
Shot on Italy’s southern coast, a sumptuous bleakness joins a violin-heavy score - the final work from the late composer Jóhann Jóhannsson - to give the film an angsty soul. How Mary managed to keep her shawl eternally spotless amongst the dusty landscapes is the film’s real miracle. Amen to the laundry department. (Jack Whiting) Fantastic. Come for that: a delicious silk mix, flowing spotless throughout.