‘Mary Magdalene’ Review: Rooney Mara is Divine in an Otherwise Flat Biblical Drama

There is one compelling reason to see Mary Magdalene, Lion director Garth Davis’ long-delayed drama, a notorious casualty of the death of the Weinstein Company. It is not the work of the director, a talented filmmaker who has crafted a slow-moving Biblical epic that fails to engage. It is not the presence of Joaquin Phoenix, who plays Jesus of Nazareth as a loving but ever-pained martyr. Nor is it the typically strong work of Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays Peter with a fire Phoenix surprisingly lacks. And it is not the script by Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett, which succeeds in establishing the time and place but feels like a slog through an oft-dramatized story.

The reason, as may be clear, is Rooney Mara. As Mary of Magdala, the close follower of Jesus Christ and one of history’s most mischaracterized figures, Mara is simultaneously strong-willed, emotionally shattered, and spiritually enlightened.

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