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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

The Reckoning (review)

It’s kinda like a medieval episode of Law & Order, and I always feel that one simply cannot get too much of Law & Order. Here, the role of the nice Catholic cop Chris Noth played in the series will be performed by Paul Bettany (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World), as Nicholas, a 14th-century priest who’s on the run from his little English village for reasons that will be revealed in the third act. Willem Dafoe (Once Upon a Time in Mexico) will perform the role of Lenny Briscoe– I mean Martin, the leader of a troupe of actors who travel the countryside, earning silver pennies by dramatizing Bible stories. Brian Cox (X2: X-Men United) costars as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren, with Matthew MacFadyen (Warriors) as Jack McCoy. No, seriously, this is a terrific little film, a very contemporary-feeling detective story set amongst the squalor and the misery of the middle ages. A young boy has been murdered in the town the players — whom Nicholas has joined — arrive in, and instead of mounting one of their religious plays, the troupe decides to perform a morality tale about the child’s murder at the hands of town mute and crazy lady Martha (Elvira Minguez). But as Nicholas and Martin try to suss out the details from the townsfolk, nothing quite adds up, and they find themselves unraveling a web of lies woven by the local noble and willful delusion amongst the peasants. It is, rather thrillingly, about the power of art to not only reveal the truth but help those unwilling to believe it finally accept it… and it’s also full of a disdain for authority, particularly for authority that will do anything and everything in within its power to retain it. Hardly a new theme, true, but placed in this context, when the powerful held the weak in a stranglehold or not at all, it feels fresh and startlingly relevant.


MPAA: rated R for some sexuality and violent images

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

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