Skip to main content

Film Reviews Rooney Mara’s long-delayed Mary Magdalene is an unnecessary cinematic resurrection

Rooney Mara in Mary Magdalene (2018).

See-Saw Films

  • Mary Magdalene
  • Directed by: Garth Davis
  • Written by: Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett
  • Starring: Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix and Chiwetel Ejiofor
  • Classification: 14A; 120 minutes

rating

It took three days and three nights for Jesus to return, but more than a year for this film about Christ’s most puzzled-over follower to make it to North American theatres. Originally shot in 2016, Mary Magdalene got tempted into distribution hell before slipping out in 2018 to a muted U.K. and Australia release.

You don’t have to be a biblical scholar to see how director Garth Davis (the Nicole Kidman tear-jerker Lion) failed to generate the kind of response that Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ or Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ engendered. Retelling the Greatest Story Ever Told should, after all, yield some bare minimum of dramatic tension. Yet, most of Davis’s effort is as flat and dry as the deserts of Judea, as if the director and screenwriters Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett forgot what it was they found interesting about their title character in the first place.

Story continues below advertisement

Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus and Rooney Mara as Mary in Mary Magdalene (2018).

See-Saw Films

As the historically misunderstood Magdalene, the at-times dynamic Rooney Mara offers a too-quiet performance, often mistaking blankness for resolve. But it is not as if Joaquin Phoenix’s Jesus offers her much to bounce off of, resulting in a pairing that is shockingly dull.

Johann Johannsson’s comically overbearing score is just interesting enough to justify the entire project, but Mary Magdalene is ultimately an unnecessary cinematic resurrection.

Mary Magdalene opens April 12.

Live your best. We have a daily Life & Arts newsletter, providing you with our latest stories on health, travel, food and culture. Sign up today.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter