The Nativity Story (PG)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarNo StarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner06/12/2006

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Impressively cast, authentic-looking production with superb performances and engaging direction by Catherine Hardwicke.

What's it all about?
The film opens with King Herod (Ciaran Hinds) ordering the Massacre of the Innocents in Bethlehem. It then flashes back several months and tells the story of Mary (Keisha Castle-Hughes), a young virgin in Nazareth who is visited by the angel Gabriel (Alexander Siddig) and told that she has been chosen by God to bear his son, Jesus.

After Gabriel visits Mary's husband-to-be Joseph (Oscar Isaacs) and confirms her story, the two of them travel to Bethlehem to complete Herod's census, undertaking the dangerous journey despite the fact that Mary is nine months pregnant.

The Good
Catherine Hardwicke (Lords of Dogtown, Thirteen) may seem like an unusual choice for a Biblical epic, but she proves an inspired choice, choosing to focus on the authenticity of the story, primarily through Mary. The desire for authenticity (as opposed to previous po-faced Biblical pictures) extends to the impressive casting (there are no heavily made-up Hollywood stars here) as well as to the locations and the look of the film.

Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider) is superb as Mary, brilliantly capturing her tinge of regret as she moves, prematurely, from childhood to adulthood and then finding reserves of enormous strength as she confronts her destiny. The supporting cast are excellent but Oscar Isaac is particularly good as Joseph and it's to the film's credit that it addresses the issue of how he feels when Mary first announces that she's pregnant.

The Bad
The only real problem with the film is that the ending feels rushed, losing the dramatic potential of Mary and Joseph's escape from the massacre.

Worth seeing?
The story may be 2006 years old but this is an engaging drama with strong performances, impressive direction and an admirable commitment to authenticity. As an amusing trivial note: 16 year old Keisha fell pregnant after filming, which must have lead to a few interesting decisions in the publicity department.

Film Trailer

The Nativity Story (PG)
Be the first to review The Nativity Story...
image
01 Into the Storm (tbc)

Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Jeremy Sump...

image
02 Horrible Bosses 2 (tbc)

Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennif...

image
03 God's Pocket (tbc)

Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Christina Hendricks, Rich...

image
04 Wakolda (tbc)

Alex Brendemuhl, Diego Peretti, Guillermo Pfening

image
05 Annabelle (tbc)

Annabelle Wallis, Alfre Woodard, Eric Ladin

Content updated: 01/08/2014 04:43

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Mood Indigo (12A)

Breathtakingly imaginative and beautifully designed, this is an engaging, funny and ultimately moving love story. Starring Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films

Hot Tickets

Film 4 Summer ScreenFilm 4 Summer Screen

Taking over the big screen at Somerset House again for August 2014, the Film 4 Summer Screen series brings a variety of classics and brand new films to audiences in the capital.