Joseph and Mary is a biblical drama that follows the story of Elijah, a devout Rabbi, who is determined to avenge the deaths of his wife’s sons, both of whom were killed by Herod’s soldiers during the slaughter of the Jewish boys of Bethlehem. When Elijah reconnects with his old friends Mary and Joseph and meets their son, Jesus, now 12-years-old, he starts to question his plan to kill the soldier who had killed his wife’s sons.
Besides poor acting, poor production value, the film’s strange habit of putting Jesus’ future teachings in Joseph’s mouth, and the hokey voice over at the end, the biggest problem with the movie was that it didn’t seem to know which story it wanted to tell.
The above paragraph about Elijah’s story is how the movie is described in its marketing materials. That story actually sounds interesting, and it is a story I would have loved to see. But the movie actually only spends about 1/4 of its time telling that story. The other 3/4 is an extremely slow church play type of retelling of the Nativity story, but strangely only including the magi and not the shepherds or angels.
If the movie is really the story of Elijah and Rebekah, it should be primarily about them, with Mary and Joseph and yes, even Jesus, as side characters. As much as I love the Nativity story, as much as I love Jesus, it just doesn’t make sense to have a complete retelling of every detail of it to tell Elijah’s story. Or even much of it at all. Elijah’s story, and the film’s message of choosing forgiveness over revenge would have been much more impactful without it. The film would have had more time to explore Elijah’s journey – to see his relationship with Rebekah grow, his anger develop, and then to see him struggle with his choice. As it is, it is difficult to connect with his character or identify with his struggle or feel any tension in his relationship with Rebekah, because the film just didn’t go that deep into either of their characters or their story. Which is a shame, because since the characters and the story felt flat, the message fell flat too. I felt that I was told by the film that you should forgive people instead of take revenge, but I didn’t come away from the film actually thinking or feeling or knowing from the story that I should forgive.
And oh yeah, and if the story is supposed to be about Elijah, why is it called Joseph and Mary?
If you’re interested in seeing a biblical drama with an interesting story that gives you new insight into Jesus or your faith on DVD, I would recommend renting or buying Risen instead.
Joseph and Mary released direct to DVD on Tuesday, July 12.