Wednesday, January 10, 2007
MOVIE REVIEW: THE NATIVITY STORY
I did a review of this movie a few weeks before Christmas and forgot to post it. Better late than never!
This Nativity Story is based on the events surrounding and preceding our Lord's birth. Keisha Castle-Hughes's (she looks a lot like Olivia Hussey) interpretation of Mary as a young reluctant bride becoming the mother of the Messiah is at the heart of the movie. Castle-Hughes's simple village girl sensibility stays with her Mary throughout the movie. I especially like that frowned look which accompanies much of her performance. The appearance of the angel, the tensions of getting pregnant before marriage and her visit to Elizabeth's home, although life shattering, don't transform her into a mystic. Mary was no Joan of Arc!
And lets not forget Oscar Isaac's controlled performance as Joseph. His confrontation with Mary and her family over the pregnancy is great theatre. The village scenes, framed within Roman oppression and poverty, convey a certain gut like realism which makes the biblical drama resonate throughout the movie. And just so that we don't forget the larger setting of Christ's birth, the story of wise men and Herod's infamy are duly included. Give credit to the first class editing: Mary and Joseph's journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem through Jerusalem is controlled and never allowed to get weepy and Ciaran Hind's cold blooded portrayal of Herod make the movie a tight production.
My only complaint is the movie's take on the wise men. There is no indication that there were 3 of them nor is there anything to suggest their presence at the Bethlehem stable. Scripture is clear that they met up with the family at a later date in Nazareth. Apart from these bloopers, seeing the movie was an edifying experience.