Tag Archives: Garth Davis

Mary Magdalene (2018) Review

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Adult themes
Cast
Rooney Mara as Mary Magdalene
Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus Christ
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Peter
Tahar Rahim as Judas
Director: Garth Davis

MARY MAGDALENE is an authentic and humanistic portrait of one of the most enigmatic and misunderstood spiritual figures in history. The biblical biopic tells the story of Mary (Rooney Mara), a young woman in search of a new way of living. Constricted by the hierarchies of the day, Mary defies her traditional family to join a new social movement led by the charismatic Jesus of Nazareth (Joaquin Phoenix). She soon finds a place for herself within the movement and at the heart of a journey that will lead to Jerusalem.

Mary Magdalene was a movie I was curious about. Director Garth Davis’s previous movie Lion was pretty good but most of all, Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix and Chiwetel Ejiofor, all fantastic actors, were involved in the movie. It definitely had a lot of potential. At the same time, I was sceptical. The film was pushed back quite a bit (from late 2017 to March 2018) and the trailers didn’t look all that great. Also I don’t really like biblical movies. Despite everything, I gave the film a shot. Overall Mary Magdalene is fine but has a lot of issues and the story isn’t always interesting and drags from time to time. The performances from the talented cast are the best parts of the movie. Mary Magdalene isn’t great but not as bad as what has been said about it.

Mary Magdalene is a 2 hour movie but it feels much longer than that. The thing that really stood out to me is that the first act really dragged. Once Mary leaves her family to follow Jesus, the story picked up noticeably. After that point, the movie went in and out from being interesting to not really interesting me that much. Honestly I don’t have too much to say about the story to be honest. It has its strong moments and it has its weak moments. So overall, the actual story is a bit of a mixed bag. As for whether any of it will cause controversy (due to it being a religious movie), storywise I don’t know for sure but nothing particularly stood out to me. It had a more human take, which I think will make the movie slightly more accessible to those who aren’t really a fan of biblical movies.

The thing about Mary Magdalene that mainly had my interest was the cast and they all did a good job really. Rooney Mara was quite good as the titular character. Her performance is quite subtle yet very emotional and she as usual brings her A-game to this role. Joaquin Phoenix was also pretty good as a very different and weird version of Jesus to say the least. It’s not one of Phoenix’s best performances, he has definitely done a lot better than this, some of the time I’m not sure what he was doing. He also did mumble way too much and it was often difficult to hear what he was saying. Rooney and Joaquin shared great chemistry together and that was one of the highlights of the film. The supporting cast shouldn’t be left out of the praise, actors like Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tahar Rahim do well with what they have, those two in particularly were really good.

Garth Davis did a pretty good job overall directing Mary Magdalene. Much of the movie is pretty small and intimate throughout. In fact there was one moment later on which contained a wide shot of Jerusalem that was very jarring because most of the movie felt pretty small. With that said, MM does have its fair share of visually appealing moments and the locations worked quite well. Johann Johannsson also did a pretty good score, his final score, worth noting.

Mary Magdalene isn’t that great of a movie and it has a number of issues but it’s not bad by any means. It has some great performances, Garth Davis’s direction is good and it does have some genuinely good moments. But it does have its fair share of issues and can really drag. If you are a big fan of Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix give it a watch, otherwise maybe check it out if you have nothing else to watch, it’s not really one to rush out to see as soon as possible.

Lion (2016) Review

 

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Adult themes
Cast:
Sunny Pawar as younger Saroo Brierley
Dev Patel as older Saroo Brierley
Rooney Mara as Lucy
Nicole Kidman as Sue Brierley
David Wenham as John Brierley
Director: Garth Davis

Five year old Saroo (Sunny Pawar) gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of miles across India, away from home and family. Saroo must learn to survive alone in Kolkata, before ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty five years later, armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, Saroo (Dev Patel) sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.

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Lion was a film that I was curious about. I actually saw the 60 minutes article about the real life story this movie was based on and I just knew it would be turned into a movie. Surely enough, that happened with Lion and I knew I had to check it out as soon as possible. And it did not disappoint. Lion is a good movie, the acting was great by everyone, the direction was also good but most of all the story is compelling, Lion is definitely worth checking out.

This movie’s first half is of Young Saroo (Sunny Pawar) in India and the second half is of Adult Saroo (Dev Patel) in Australia. While most movies would cut between the past and the present, it decides to tell it’s story chronologically, while the second half has some additional flashbacks. This makes it easier to get a better idea of what Saroo’s feeling in the second half when he’s trying to find his family. It’s very easy to get caught up in the story, I never felt bored watching this movie. The first half of the movie was great. It heavily relies on actor Sunny Pawar and while I’ll get into more detail about him later, I’ll just say that he’s the reason that the first half works so well. It does feel a little jarring when the story witches to the second half. The tone, pace and feel did seem to noticeably change. The second half is still good, it just didn’t feel quite as strong as the first half, though honestly I’m not quite sure what it is. With that said, and the ending is really satisfying, and paid off well.

Newcomer actor Sunny Pawar did amazing work as Young Saroo. This is a kid actor, and Lion is also the first movie he’s been involved in. And we all know that kid actors nowadays are hit or miss. Very impressive performance, he was the stand out in the movie. He’s basically the main star, as the entire first half focusses on him. Most of the time he’s not saying anything, so his reactions and the way he acts has to carry the movie. Dev Patel was also great as adult Saroo. It was a little jarring with the shift to Dev after the first half, but nonetheless he did a good job and it was very easy to buy him in this role. Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman also did great work in supporting roles, they definitely added a lot to this movie as well.

Lion was overall a well directed movie by director Garth Davis. This is the first film I’ve seen from him and I can tell from Lion that he’s a solid director. The cinematography is beautiful and the locations also showcased well, whether that be in India or Australia. The music by Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka was also good. Generally though, Lion’s highlight wasn’t it’s direction, it’s the story that’s really the highlight.

Lion lived up to expectations with its great acting, solid direction and also a compelling and powerful story. While the switch between the first two halves is a bit of a jarring and the second half of the story isn’t quite as strong as the first half, I still really liked this movie. Lion was a great movie and it’s really worth checking out when you can.