The interesting take on this film is its awesome and well-intentioned attempt to rehabilitate this key character of the Gospels (if indeed she was just one individual rather than being a composite) by freeing her from the erroneous caricature of 'fallen woman' bestowed upon her by Pope Gregory I (the 'Great') and which has endured now for over fourteen centuries - though with a very long overdue attempt by the Vatican in recent years to rectify this slanderous injustice. (Btw: Why are men never described as being 'fallen'? Is it something that only they are permitted to be without censure? - permitted by other men, of course.)
The film attempts to show some happenings of Christ's late life from a feminine perspective where the experiences of the two of them coincide. And it's Mary who, quite rightly, has the greater screen time.
Joachin Phoenix is the Messiah! - looking nearer to 40 than his reputed age of early 30s, so Jesus hasn't aged too well, but we'll let that go. Rooney Mara is Mary M., his sole female disciple and favourite (and his wife? - but no indication of that in this film!)
Chiwetel Ejiofor is a disappointingly anodyne Peter, about as bland as I actually found Mara in the title role - and indeed, Phoenix himself, who didn't seem right for this historically stand-out part. To my mind there ought to have been rather more magnetism, both animal and spiritual, to this 'saviour'.
The only really interesting member of the cast I thought was the screen-stealing Tahar Rahim as a bubbly, very likeable Judas, impatient for the arrival of a heavenly power to overthrow the oppressive Romans rulers.
The story begins with Mary living with her 'demons' which are then cast out by Jesus in their first meeting. Thereafter there didn't seem to be that much attraction between the two even though it's played that there was indeed an emotional connection.
Much dialogue in this film, particularly in the early scenes, is lost in incoherent mumblings and incomprehensible whisperings, when such low-voiced exchanges weren't even necessary! So that got it off on the wrong foot for me.
A few episodes we are familiar with are played out - a raising from the dead of a man (not Lazarus) - was particularly well done.
I liked that we were shown Mary actually baptising others herself - okay, 'just' two women but even so.....something that would alone get some 'evangelists' frothing at the mouth, so that's all to the good.
The reason for the betrayal by Judas is given a different slant to the one that's been handed down to us, so that too I liked.
In a sense this is a brave film, attempting to give us something new without lurching over completely into controversial territory, so that alone is a 'plus'. But other than this rather abstract pleasing quality I'd be hard-pushed to detail many more of its assets.
Director Garth Davis gave us the quite impressive 'Lion' in 2016. If this film is, in my view, nowhere near that it in stature and quality, this did exceed my original low expectations.............5.