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.
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.
Also, nice choice for an Easter flick 😉
I do try and theme the content here.
I once saw Alicia Silverstones’s “The Crush” on Easter so I really shouldn’t be one to talk….
Yikes! Are we getting a review for this one!?
I remember loving it but I suspect it won’t hold up so I’m never watching it again. Preserve the good memories!
I saw Blast from the Past on the big screen. But I cede the ground of Silverstone expert to you…
Her talents extend beyond Clueless!
A full retrospective is in order…
I see writing some bonus posts in my future…..
I have fond memories of The Crush as well. Really made me believe in Silverstone as an actor with chops. So I should probably avoid it now as well.
Sigh. What kind of chips are we talking about? Canadian mutton chops like yourself?
Wow, he really does look like Keanu in that still.
This sounds worth a look for sure.
I know! Eddie is the only one who can’t see it.
It’s a man with a beard. Keanu Reeves did not invent or copyright having a beard. Anyone can have one. Jack Huston has one, and he and Reeves are two different people. I’m not having a rebellion about this, that pic is Jack Huston and not Reeves. FAcT!
I thought he looked like John Legend
I wonder if Dix just made this “Jack Huston” fellow up.
Sigh. I don’t know why I even bother getting out of bed some mornings. You clearly know nothing about film; Jack Huston directed the Treasure of Sergio Leone and The Maltese Falcon. You might have heard of him. But maybe two men having a beard is confusing for you…
I have to admit I hadn’t heard of him, I was thinking he might be related to Angelica or John.
No croper than Keanu!
Nobody calls Keanu crops on this blog. Retract!
I didn’t, you did.
What did your crope refer to?
My croper referred to your crope.
Any crope in particular?
The one wot you wrote.
Not another one, just having a beard does not make you Keanu Reeves! I’ve had a beard and remained firmly not him!
So you say……
And this comment aptly sums up this whole thing!
“I’ve had a beard . . .”
Um. Er. You might want to put that differently.
Look, just because you got your image files mixed up and posted something from John Wick with this review is no reason to get upset. It’s just like a typo.
Sigh. Do you think I zip up the back, Bunty? The caption says Jack Huston. And it is Jack Huston. Keanu Reeves is a producer here. It’s not rocket science. You can’t even say that all men with beards are Keanu Reeves because he only really had a beard in John Wick 1 to 4. And I have had a beard, and could grow one if I felt I had time that wasn’t wasted correcting hairless malcontents like yourself.
Takeaway; it’s Jack Huston.
Pics of Grizzly Harrison?
None to hand, so I guess it never happened…
You mean a dixypo!
A dixypo! All gone over in another thread, maybe another site.
I’ll dixypo you in a minute, Bunty, so help me…
My guess? She’s actually carrying the anti-Christ. Nobody else fits the bill to unite humanity in the last days.
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…
Sigh, I was kidding.
But I shouldn’t be surprised that hollywood would go down that path. How predictable…
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…
The other trope is that it will be a female baby. That would have been my second guess.
Unfortunately I’m bound to accept your first answer. This competition is now closed. No refunds.
That’s ok. i feel like I got my money’s worth out of this guessing game. Everybody is a winner when everybody is a loser! 😉
That is one way to look at it. As long as everybody is equal…
Well, everybody except me. I actually did some guessing. So I’m WAAAAAY more equal than anyone else.
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.
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?
Why is Jack Huston made up to look like Keanu Reeves?
Do you mean Knate Dogg? Knathan Lane?
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.