What is it with Christ movies and terrible endings? The ending of “The Passion of the Christ” breaks the whole conceit of the film, undercutting all its focus on verisimilitude and realism by making a prescriptive statement, robbing the audience of their chance to judge the Passion as those in Christ’s time could. The ending of “Last Days in the Desert” is so divorced from the actual film, it feels like a mandated reminder that the protagonist was Christ, as if the film wasn’t about that.
Still, there’s plenty to like here. Ewan McGregor gives strong performances as Christ and Satan. Ciarán Hinds is a dependable, talented performer, as always. Emmanuel Lubezki ensures the film is, if nothing else, beautiful. The actual film itself, apart from the ending, is interesting, but feels almost…inessential?
I don’t feel like anything new was said here, nor that anything old was said in a new or interesting way. The film ends up just feeling like a vehicle for the cast and crew to flex their chops. I appreciate so much of the film in theory – a “religious” film not particularly prescriptive, a film about Christ that doesn’t focus on the most dramatic elements – but it just doesn’t really come together. I give it two and a half ropes, and a riddle.