THE YOUNG MESSIAH (2016)
This is a good film directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh with a screenplay by himself and Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh based on Anne Rice’s book CHRIST THE LORD: OUT OF EGYPT. It was felt in changing the title it would make it more accessible to the film going public, however this book was an international bestseller so I personally disagree with the decision. The film however is well made in trying to detail the young life of Christ of which little is known. What Ms. Rice did was extensive research in attempting to recreate what might have been, without in anyway being inappropriate or theologically unsound. She had to come up with a plausible story that could be set up in the context of the Gospels, even though virtually nothing is known of the early life of Jesus. This film recreates her creation well though not necessarily entering the realm of great filmmaking, it’s quite serviceable. A book that was embraced by both Roman Catholics and Protestants, she had the slippery task of staying away from certain theological issues that divide Evangelicals/Fundamentalists from Roman Catholics, such as Mary remaining chaste her whole life and the Protestant controversy of whether Jesus had any brothers and sisters. Catholic theologians do believe that cousins were routinely referred to as your brothers and sisters and the story has Joseph and Mary returning from Egypt with Jesus’ Aunt Miriam and Uncle Cleopas and his two cousins, James and his younger sister. It should be pointed out that it took me awhile to figure out that these two kids were not the biological siblings of Jesus though, since there are so many varying opinions out there and it wasn’t clarified soon enough by the director. However, Anne Rice is a Roman Catholic and she has adhered to Church doctrine in that regard. Perhaps if the filmmakers had adhered to her book a little more closely. The film has been beautifully photographed by Joel Ransom with a lovely musical score by John Debney which compliments the scenes well. However, this film is good but not great, which is what I felt it needed to be. The character of Severus, a Roman Centurion not in the book but added for dramatic tension, is well played by Sean Bean, perhaps the best known actor in the cast. Adam Greaves-Neal as Jesus is good but not really exceptional and Vincent Walsh as Joseph and Sara Lazzaro as Mary aquite themselves quite well in their roles. Though not a great film it’s still worth a trip to the cinema if the topic at all interests you, and especially if you read the book.