Many recent faith-based films have suffered from low budgets and mediocre acting. Not so with “Risen,” a new take on the story of the resurrection of Christ.
Joseph Fiennes is excellent as a battle weary Roman Tribune who is charged with finding the body of Jesus after it disappears from its tomb. He reluctantly discovers that there’s something miraculous afoot. Well acted, skillfully produced and appropriately reverent, “Risen” rises above the crowd and goes beyond preaching to the choir.
Kansas City’s Jason Sudeikis and newcomer Stephan James star in the sports drama, “Race.” James plays Olympic great Jesse Owens who electrified the world during the 1936 Berlin games that were supposed to prove Hitler’s theory of Aryan superiority. Sudeikis is Owens’ hard-drinking coach. This handsome-looking film hoped to do the same thing that “42” did for Jackie Robinson’s story, focusing on a great sportsman’s dignity in the face of daunting racism. While very well meaning and honorable, it’s also slow moving and a bit too episodic. Thanks to its cast and its commendable heart, “Race” gets a bronze medal for its efforts.
81-year-old Dame Maggie Smith won the Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actress for her performance in the “Lady in the Van.” This affable comic drama tells the true story of an elderly homeless woman who occupied a van in writer Alan Bennett’s driveway for 15 years. Low key and sentimental, “The Lady in the Van” benefits greatly from Smith’s savvy portrayal of a cantankerous and mysterious character.
Also opening this week, father and son actors Donald and Keifer Sutherland star in a Western drama, “Forsaken.” It’s the Puritans versus the supernatural in 17thcentury New England in the horror drama, “The Witch.” Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby play bi-polar poets who find love in the psych ward in “Touched With Fire.”