Mary Magdalene follows the story of Jesus Christ from the perspective of the titular heroine (Rooney Mara). Mara’s character shows us not only who the Messiah was for her, but also how she developed her faith, and the discrepancies she experienced with the other apostles in relation to Christ’s message.
It’s obvious that Garth Davis wanted to represent what Magdalene meant to the son of God, and how her personality impacted on the course of one of the biggest religions on the planet. The subtlety of Mara’s movements makes for a great portrayal of a figure who has renounced her previous life in order to embrace the word of the Redeemer and devote herself to his following – which was extremely unpopular around that time.
The cinematography definitely helps to achieve a sense of purity and peace within the protagonist; so too does the optimum costume design, which matches the scenery perfectly. Despite this film revolving around Christ and the last part of his life, there isn’t enough of Joaquin Phoenix here – which somehow makes sense, since this is not his story. However, the dialogues between him and Mara remain some of the best interactions of this feature, the ones that give the most meaning to their respective arcs.
The only department where Mary Magdalene fails is definitely the editing. The movie drags after the first 20 minutes and it doesn’t recover its pace until the second half of the third act. It’s understandable that to make sense of Mary’s journey we also need to witness Christ’s miracles, prayer and general routine with the apostles, but the Australian director decides to be too contemplative in his approach and the momentum inevitably suffers. Aside from that, this is a beautiful cinematic experience, a story that has been very well translated for the screen, with minimal dialogue and a lot of facial acting.
For those who love a good Malick-like film – well-crafted but with not much happening – this feminist and ethereal historical piece is going to be a delight.
Mary Magdalene is released nationwide on 16th March 2018.
Watch the trailer for Mary Magdalene here: