Hail Mary


‘…Hail Mary is a thoughtful, well-acted and daringly conceived fantasy that works its way to a significant twist or punch-line…’

Jack Huston HAIL MARY

Magic realism is a literary genre that’s been ill served by cinema to date; the failure of films like House of the Spirits suggested that mixing a realistic commentary on today’s world with fantastic, mystical or surreal elements isn’t something that works as well on the big screen as it does on the printed page. Yet it could be argued that many of today’s superhero or fantasy franchises do incorporate magic realist elements; Rosemary Rodriguez’s religious thriller blends today’s hot-topic issues (women’s rights, immigration, border control) with some updated biblical elements to often engrossing effect.

“I came from the soil,’ announces Baal (Jack Huston) as he unfolds himself to his next potential victim; he’s on a mission through Mexico to catch up with our protagonist Maria (Natalia del Riego) as she seeks to escape to the USA with her unborn child. This is obviously a re-telling, but not a parody, of one of the most familiar Bible stories; together with carpenter Jose (Benny Emmanuel), Maria is hoping to escape from the deadly Herod plague which renders new-born babies dead in Mexico on arrival; Jose leads her towards a secret tunnel built by criminals which might just save Maria, but Baal is never far behind…

Hail Maria does offer the kind of societal commentary that distinguished Godard’s Je vous salue, Marie, but it also taps into the commercial impulses that have driven Stephen King and Clive Barker to delve into the realm of magic realism, or even the symbolism of Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita; stranger things have happened by the Patriarch’s Ponds. ‘Some farm girl from Central America isn’t going to give birth to the saviour of the world,’ Maria reasons with self-deprecating intent, but Hail Mary makes a case why today’s circumstances might be just right for that event; Rodriguez’s film follows events ‘from the black market to the farmer’s market’ to throw fresh light on issues connected to child separation. Under signs reading ‘No asylum in the US’, Maria agonises about her responsibility as Baal closes in. ‘Do you have any history of disease in your family?,’ Baal casually asks his soon-to-be victims, before demurring ‘My creator is more understanding than yours.’ Playing a demon in human form is a tall order, but Huston, previously the scene-stealing lawyer in Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci, makes something wonderfully saturnine and sinister from his relentless pursuer, a Terminator freshly armed with scripture and a global warming T-Shirt.

From a script by Knate Lee, and with model Angela Sarafyan memorably cast as an angelic helper, Hail Mary is a metaphorical thriller rather than a horror movie, although the atmosphere is appropriately dark and violent. The presence of Keanu Reeves amongst the producers here connects Hail Mary to the quasi-religious fantasy worlds depicted in Constantine or even The Matrix; the world may well feel like it’s going to hell right now, so an updated Bible story should have its place, even if it’s just a provocation to create discussion. Hail Mary is a thoughtful, uniformly well-acted and daringly conceived film that works its way to a significant twist or punch-line; while it makes something disturbing and compelling in its depiction of evil, this film is also full of grace and concern for the plight of those of us who live on planet earth.

Hail Mary just screened at SXSW 2023, there’s no trailer as yet, but I’ll post trailers and clips as they emerge. Until then, here’s the cast talking about the film.




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  1. Well I’m not anti allegorical movies per se, there’s a lot of them about, but re-doing the virgin birth and all that malarkey doesn’t enthuse me. Nope.

    • Wouldn’t want to spoil anything, particularly since there’s no trailer, but I did say there was a twist at the end so you’re onto something…

        • Aha, but I’ll share a secret. We’re not talking anti-Christ here, although I totally see how that might be imagined to be the twist. But I think you’re right to think that Hollywood generally crushes the soul out of many a spiritual story…

            • Unfortunately I’m bound to accept your first answer. This competition is now closed. No refunds.

                    • You are the most equal person here. If I was asked who was more equal than you, I’d say there were none more equal.

                    • Exactly. Now that we have the pecking order firmly established, I’d like to suggest that we turn this site into a review site for Spongebob epdisodes.
                      That’s what the world needs more of, not more antichrist babies. Damien’s enough, thank you very much…

                    • Nope. You can review your own SpongeBob. This website is for serious cinema fans, not just those who dig cartoons about squidward.

  2. Keanu looks like he’s getting younger. Did he film this after JW4?

    Was all set to pounce on getting Kate Lee’s name wrong but I guess it’s really Knate. That’s a new one for me. How many Knates do you know?

    • Sigh. That is not Keanu, that is Jack Huston, try and keep up, Bunty.

      I do try and check names, are we including Nate Dogg?

        • Knathaniel West. Knash Bridges. Plenty of famous Kn’s. Kneanu Reeves too.

          He’d got a beard and a face but that’s the only connection I see.

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