This Messiah Might Tickle Your Fancy

17th Dallas International Film Festival

By Daniel R. Durrett

A unique telling of a tale from the ancient times of Jesus Christ. A story of a man who is down on his luck and finds himself in debt to Barabbas (Omar Sy~ the Intouchables, Jurassic World), a gangster. Clarence (LaKeith Stanfield~  Sorry to Bother You, Selma) and his friend Elijah (RJ Cryer~ War Machine, Me Earl and the Dying Girl) decide a way to raise the funds to pay back Barabbas and win the love of Barabbas’ Sister, is to become a messiah. Just like Jesus, who he knows about through his own twin brother, Joseph, who is an Apostle of Jesus.

One of the things I love about this film among many, and I should preface this entire review with the fact that I consider myself a Christian and was raised as such. Is that the movie is at its core the telling of another man in the time of Christ? We get these stories within religion but there has yet to be a contemporary telling of a story that helps humanity understand the day and age of a man in this time. Mostly overdrawn action films, Roman tales, or stories of faith and overcoming obstacles but typically nothing like the Book of Clarence.

The film is a mixture of “Friday” with Ice Cube and “The Ten Commandments” with Charlton Heston, drama and humor ride side by side in this chariot. One of my top ten of the year I am just sad that it was not released later this year in the Spring.

I would be all about doing an Easter screening of The Book of Clarence sponsored by ReelNewz and Operation Movie Night if the studio would allow it. That’s enough with my prayers.

How long has society questioned the stupidity of a 20-something man? Well, this film shows that as much as this is the past, things may always in some way be the same. Why would any person not seek fame, fortune, and the love of someone special? Director and Writer Jeymes Samuel (They Die By Dawn, The Harder They Fall) found a path to a unique but fully biblical story. The Romans crucified thousands of people as a barbaric process of oppressing society that has become a growing thought process within our world.

Perhaps January is when it is best to reminisce and look at your own life and take account of the balance of good and evil that exists on your ledger. This film may be one of the best to consider your position in the story of discovery that the New Testament’s parable is built upon.

Much of the film’s humor is based on Clarence’s belief that Jesus is in some way a scam. Clarence desires to figure out how the Messiah performs his miracles and to exploit this knowledge for his gain. Clarence is greatly matched in the scenes he shared with the Virgin Mary portrayed brilliantly by Alfre Woodard (12 Years a Slave, Annabelle). A southern sass can be seen within Woodard’s motherly portrayal.

Clarence’s path exists in a symmetrical tale as told like the story of Jesus in the books, the audience knows as, the New Testament.

Clarence knows he should spend time making himself a more believable messiah. Therefore, he also must cross the river of “John the Baptist” brought to life by David Oyelowo (Lawman: Bass Reeves, Gringo). John seemed like a straight shooter to me when I read the Bible as a child. Well, this must have been the understanding of Oyelowo and Samuel about John as well. Oyelowo provides one of the most memorable scenes in the film with his and Clarence’s interaction.

This Messiah, Clarence, is flanked with great support by the portrayal of Elijah, his best friend. Later in the story, they are joined by a slave, Jedediah the Terrible diligently presented by Eric Kofi Abrefa (White Widow, BMF) was released from his imprisonment by Clarence. Released
at the request of Judas, one of Jesus’ apostles, who was played by Michael Ward (The Old Guard, Empire of Light).

The intertwined portions of this story with the story of Jesus Christ will madden some uptight Christians. However, if you find your sensibilities maddened, well then you missed EVERY part of what this film is about.

There are also wonderful cameos from James McAvoy (Split, The Last King of Scotland) as Pontius Pilate and Benedict Cumberbatch that adds delight to this humorous and dramatic story.

The story is a beyond brilliant view and a needed worthwhile telling of the times of Jesus. May we all be willing to give each other the patience to view lives with many eyes. -Amen

See this MOVIE or you wanted Jesus DEAD!!!

15th Dallas International Film Festival