Day 3 (Part 1) Somewhere in the deep lowness of this page, I talk about how Juliette Binoche has become for me an actor I will follow into any unknown world like Dante following Beatrice. There simply isn't a face that registers emotion as truthfully or as profoundly anywhere in moviedom. As a person who lives a life of active faith, having this actor play Mary Magdalene is spiritually akin to sitting on a mountaintop in Tibet and reflecting on prayer flags. Abel Ferrera's powerful and stirring Mary begins with a film within the film, in which Binoche, as Mary, rolls aside Jesus' tomb and enters to find only his shroud and a group of strange-looking angels. She starts to weep and when asked why, says, her face slowly melting:
They have taken my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.
That was it for me. My festival was over. Because quite simply, there isn't going to be a more sublime moment than that, although a scene later on also in the film within a film, when she responds to the Apostle Peter's accusation that she has lied or made up stories told to her by Jesus, is equally astonishing. As she starts to consider the enormity of the accusation, her transcendent face is again breathtaking.
The complexities of the film itself I am still unravelling. But I know that I liked its male characters' hollow desperation and craving for some kind of meaning, while simultaneously acting in reprehensible ways. Everyone is very strong here. Matthew Modine as a self-obsessed filmmaker who allows himself to play Jesus and Forest Whittaker as a tv producer caught in a spiritual maelstrom as his life unravels around his choices, are equally compelling. Abel Ferrera's very dark camera, both hauntingly static and rushing forward into chaos, serves the film perfectly. Pacing, narrative structure are still, however, in review in my head. But it won't matter. The only thing I will ever see when I think of this film is that beautifully stricken face, looking for the body of the crucified rabbi.