Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Body (2001)

An intriguing premise - what would happen if a body was found in a tomb in Jerusalem, and all the evidence points towards it being Jesus.

The basic story was gripping, but the acting and dialogue fell a little short.

Marie found Antonio Banderas not believable as a priest, he's too much of an action hero for that kind of role. Maybe that was deliberate in their casting, not sure. I found him good, but limited in his portrayal.

Olivia Williams as Sharon, the Israeli archaeologist, was good but seemed inconsistent in parts.

The more I think of it, the more I think it's probably a script or director problem. Actors can only work with what they have.

Sharon came across as a tough lady, until there were explosions etc. in which case she turned into a whimpering wreck. That's realistic - the toughness is often a shell for a hurting person inside - but the polarisation between the two didn't come off as realistic.

I wondered if this was a case of 'director knows best', where an eager director prevents actors from really owning the roles. That's just a theory.

This film didn't do so well at the box office, and I think a lot of the reason is that the key audience who would appreciate it - Christians - would be afraid to see it in case it had a typical Hollywood anti-God agenda, as they see it.

In fact, I'd seen this at the video store but been suspicious of it, until I found it had won an Epiphany award - a Christian award for spiritually uplifting content.

While it's a great story, it's marred by some cliche'd behaviour between Williams and Banderas. Especially the conversation when they meet - and Williams is driving like a crazy Israeli (apparently they all drive like that?) and they swap a few clever one-liners.

This to me is shameless making it movie-friendly. It's supposed to reveal character but it comes across as stereotyped and unsubtle. That kind of dialogue and action is more suited to an Indiana Jones-style film, but this is a deeper story than that.

What can I learn?
  • Try to reveal character more subtly, don't go for gimmicks.
  • Organise your marketing campaign to draw in the right audience for the right reasons.
  • Stay steady within your chosen genre.

IMDb link


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