Posted from Park City on 1.27.15: “I can roll with austere minimalism as well as the next guy, and I certainly respect what Rodrigo Garcia and Emmanuel Lubezki are up to in Last Days of the Desert (Broad Green, 5.13), which is basically about the 40 days that Yeshua of Nazareth (Ewan McGregor) spent in the desert before embarking upon his calling as the Ultimate Lamb of God.
“Except it’s a little too spare — there’s not much feeling or drama in this thing, which is mostly about performances, photography and an impressive sense of stillness.
“The focus is not so much about Yeshua’s spiritual battle with a mirror-image Satan (also played by McGregor) as it is his decision to hang with a family of desert dwellers (Ciaran Hinds, Tye Sheridan, Ayelet Zurer) and help them build a small stone abode atop a mountain peak.
“This in itself felt like a problem to me. We all understand fasting in the wasteland to attain spiritual purity, but why would a family — anyone — live in that Godforsaken inferno? No soil, no water to speak of, no grass for the goats…a situation without a thread of logic or believability.
“I was also bothered by the footwear. In each and every Bible flick ever made guys have worn standard-issue sandals — a thick hunk of foot-shaped leather with a couple of straps. But McGregor and Hinds wear a kind of burlap slip-on — call it a desert hiking loafer.
“If you go to the Nordstrom site a close facsimile is available — Tom’s classic metallic burlap slip-on. I’m not being snarky. Any creative decision that diverts your attention form the main order of business is a mistake. Garcia and his wardrobe designer should have gone with boilerplate King of Kings sandals.”