The Sundance Film Festival response to Charlie McDowell‘s The Discovery has been fairly dismal. Speaking as a fan of McDowell’s The One I Love, which played here three years ago, I was sorry to find that The Discovery, a dialogue-driven drama about social reactions to a scientific discovery of an afterlife, is a morose, meandering thing that never lifts off the ground. The general atmosphere of dismissal had to be a heartbreaker for McDowell, but there’s also the fact that Discovery costar Rooney Mara, whom McDowell had been in a relationship with since 2010, dumped him late last year. The apparent reason was Mara falling for Joaquin Phoenix during the Italy-based filming of Garth Davis‘s Mary Magdelene, which began last November. As you might presume, Mara plays Magdalene and Phoenix Jesus Christ. (Phoenix, 42, is not just the oldest but arguably the oldest-looking actor to play J.C. — Max Von Sydow was 34 when he played the Nazarene in George Stevens‘ The Greatest Story Ever Told, which finished principal in August ’63.) Written by Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett, Mary Magdelene is a feminist take on the classic tale.
Rooney Mara as Mary Magdalene, Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus Christ in Garth Davis’s Magdalene.