Monday, 4 March 2013

No.74 : The Reckoning

The Reckoning at the IMDb

Off to the Middle Ages now on the Definite Article Blog with this tale of actors, murder, child abuse and some illicit sex - well they didn’t have the internet back then.

We open as Paul Bettany gives himself an  impromptu haircut with a sharp rock. We jump back and forth to hairier time, when he was a priest giving a sermon. He catches the eye of a buxom wench and we assume he’s been defrocked after being caught in the act with the temptress. He chucks his priestly robes in the river but keeps his crucifix in case it might come in handy later.

He wanders the woods until he happens upon a travelling troupe of actors. He witnesses one murder another but quickly accepts it was a mercy killing and asks to join up - clearly he wasn’t put off by their grievance procedure.

The actors include such luvvies as Brian Cox, Willem Dafoe and the always lovely Gina Mckee. They take on the errant priest to fill the minor roles in their production despite some sensing he has more to hide than he lets on. They are soon on the road and arrive at the fakest looking hilltop castle this side of ‘The Holy Grail’. The town is empty as the villagers are all at the trail of a local woman accused of murdering a young lad. She is found guilty but we know she’s innocent as she’s so darn pretty.

The actors stage their production of ‘Adam and Eve’ to lukewarm reviews and after being refused a burial for their dead colleague by the local vicar our once priestly friend agrees to do a comeback gig to plant the stiff. There are however rumblings in the town and it can’t all be down to the stew. The villagers think the condemned woman is innocent and Dafoe thinks recreating the murder may be a money spinning idea to get the troupe’s cart fixed. They bribe Simon Pegg’s overacting jailer to get access to the woman for plot tips and start to piece together the mystery. A exhumation confirms their worst fears and we have to wonder if the woman will be saved and if those responsible will meet justice.

For a medieval murder mystery this was pretty good stuff. It’s no ’In the name of the Rose’ but it had plenty going for it, not least a top notch cast. OK Dafoe’s accent is all over the shop and I’ve no idea why we had to keep seeing him do stretches in his pants but he’s always a strong and likable presence. Brian Cox does his usual blustery outrage shtick and for one performance he dresses up as Darth Maul - maybe he’s hoping for a gig in the new trilogy. I was sorry not to see more of Gina, but Bettany was excellent at what he does best - the oddball religious character. He should try and broaden his range - he was really convincing as a Pro tennis player in ‘Wimbledon’, then again…

The detection angle was well done with the gristly exhumation a real stomach turner. It was clear from the off that Ewen Bremner’s sneering monk would be involved as would the man seen peeping out his windows a lot . The finale where the actors utilised their skills to convince the thick townsfolk of the real villain was well done and although low budget they did capture the grime and smells of ye olde world shit hole.

The main twist was that we had a priest trying uncover child abuse rather than be involved in it, but the resolution was great and well earned. One thing I would have changed was the non-descript title - maybe ‘Luvvies Vs Nonces’ was already taken?

THE Tag Line : Luvvie to See You   76%

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