Eye For Film >> Movies >> Risen (2016) Film Review
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
No, this isn't Mary Berry's biopic. It's the resurrection story as seen through the eyes of Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a Roman tribune.
Co-written and directed by Kevin Reynolds who had a bunch of fun with Robin Hood back in 1991 and then ruined his rep with the overpriced futuristic frolic Waterworld four years later. Now he has taken on the mystery at the heart of the Christian faith. How can a corpse return from the dead?
At first you suspect this is the Saul/Paul story, doctored to suit the scriptwriters. There's no Damascus Road, however, but there are disciples and Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth from Spooks in a nightshirt) and Judas Iscariot, complete with his betrayal bounty, and secret police (Roman soldiers) behaving like Nazis.
Clavius is Pilate's top man. He is ruthless in pursuit of duty until he stops to question that duty and finds everything about it dodgy. Pilate, meanwhile, wants the streets of Jerusalem cleared of rebellious Jews before the Emperor's visit in 10 days while rumours of the recently crucified Nazarene going AWOL from his tomb incites unrest.
In the colonial tradition there is only one course of action, unreasonable force and the hard hand of authority pressing down upon the throats of the protesters. A Syrian analogy? Hardly. The Romans didn't have barrel bombs.
Clavius infiltrates the inner circle of those who remain faithful to Jesus' memory, not as a spy but as an empathetic observer. Fiennes' performance makes this conversion (almost) plausible although the acting amongst the disciples might be mistaken for a village hall rehearsal.
Recent Biblical epics embrace the weightless rhetoric of Sunday School propaganda with superhero power play. Not this time. Reynolds' attempt at humour is unrealised and yet he makes good use of the desolate locations and resists the walking on water magic show in favour of male bonding.
Restricting his budget works a treat and yet, as Pilate remarks in passing, "Does it really matter?"Reviewed on: 07 Mar 2016