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The Reckoning [DVD]
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Murder mystery set in medieval England, based on the novel 'Morality Play' by Barry Unsworth. Paul Bettany stars as Nicholas, a young priest who is forced to flee the wrath of his bishop and fellow monks after breaking his vow of chastity. On the road he witnesses the murder of one of the performers in a group of wandering actors led by the good-natured Martin (Willem Dafoe), and subsequently joins the troupe as a replacement for the murdered man. When the troupe arrive in an impoverished town to give a performance, they hear that a boy has been killed and a young deaf-mute girl, Martha (Elvira Mínguez) has been sentenced to death for his murder and witchcraft. Setting aside their usual fare of dramatised bible stories, Nicholas and Martin decide to look into the story as the basis for a new play. But they uncover more than they had expected, finding out that the townspeople know that the girl is innocent and have their own reasons for vilifying her. As in Shakespeare's Hamlet, the stage becomes the place where truths are told, and Nicholas, who has been racked with guilt since committing his crime against the priesthood, finally finds a dramatic way to atone for his sins.
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Top Customer Reviews
There are still problems in the film, including a couple of weak performances (the usually reliable Ewan Bremner and a flat and disinterested Matthew McFadyen in particular), and the impressive set still looks more like the Spanish mountains than the Yorkshire Dales, but there's still much to admire in this tale of a priest on the run who falls in with a group of travelling actors only to find a chance for redemption when, while performing a play about a child murder in a village, he discovers that the deaf and dumb healer sentenced to hang for the crime is clearly innocent. Paul Bettany is fine in the lead, although Willem Dafoe inadvisedly succombs to the siren call of attempting a Yorkshire accent and ending up with something very odd indeed (previous victims include Donald Sutherland in 'Revolution'), and you can even spot 'Shaun of the Dead's Simon Pegg in a brief bit as a gaoler. Despite being a little too fond of overhead shots here, Paul McGuigan's an interesting director with talent to burn who has yet to make an entirely successful film, but this is still well worth a look.
Nicolas (Paul Bettany), a priest who must flee after being caught in the act of adultery, joins a company of players headed by Martin (Willem Dafoe). Martin's father has just died and Nicolas is able to join the troupe because they need somebody to play the bit parts. But when Nicolas is able to give Martin's father a Christian burial (they cannot afford to pay for the rites), a bond is established between the two men. However, the miracle plays they perform are no longer drawing the crowds or the money they need to survive, so Martin proposes they give the people what they might want to see. A dramatization about the murder of a local boy by a witch who has been sentenced to death.Read more ›
The film is blased on a Morality Play and succeeds in that, but the English scenery is not convincing and is reminiscent of that in "The Name of the Rose" - so obviously Spanish.
The players find themselves in a village where a woman is awaiting execution for murder. PB does the Brother Cadfaels and in a precious short time performs an autopsy on the victim and proves the maid innocent. What our modern police could learn from these Medieval monks!
All in all, apart from Mr Bettany, the acting is muted and restrained, though Mr Dafoe looks extraordinarily handsome having more hair that usual, perhaps.
I am not familiar with the director's work, but it was a decent film and atmospheric (I had to put on the central heating half way through).
Worth as viewing if you like Ye Anciente Whodunnits.