Thursday, May 25, 2006

Da Vinci Code: a roast

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Warning: This review may contain spoilers. Which is just as well, if it saves you money that's better spent on Gigli or Dude, Where's My Car.

I haven't read the book, and I will happily go back to not reading it. Ron Howard's last film (A Beautiful Mind) made a hash of John Nash's life and ideas. This in spite of basing it on a living personality and a single gospel (Sylvia Nassar's exquisite biography). What could you expect when he turned his attention to a man dead for two thousand years, and whose life is revealed in a bewildering multitude of conflicting accounts? Suffice it to say that Jesus had it coming. Again.

Tom Hanks is the most overpaid actor in human history, with the possible exception of Pamela Anderson's boobs (depends on whether you consider them as two actors or one). He attempts to portray a latter day Aquinas in tweed, but appears only slightly more animated than Mary Magdalene's sarcophagus. Other members of the cast set more modest goals with varied success. Alfred Molina looks fat. Jean Reno looks like he hasn't showered in days. Ian McKellen tries to look cool, but ends up looking goofy. Audrey Tautou appears exactly as her name suggests – a smiley tattoo on a teenager's ass. ...more »The screen play is atrocious, the dialogue stilted and the cinematography pulls off the amazing feat of making the Louvre look like a warehouse somewhere in the outskirts of L.A. It will be an injustice not to mention the musical score. Apparently, Howard was afraid that the slow moving Bergmanesque austerity of his movie could be a turn-off for the average viewer, so he filled up every gap with an orchestral cacophony that makes elevator music sound like a Schubert symphony.

The film is most notable for its unintended ironies. It purports to reunite the yin with yang in Christian faith, by taking the conspiratorial misogyny of Catholic orthodoxy by its horns. The female lead however, who is a descendant of Jesus Christ to boot, starts off with a few minor code-cracking feats, but gradually descends into a state of tearful bafflement. So much so that it is left entirely to the dude to figure out the combination and save the day. Moral of the story: movie damsels will always be in distress, even when touched by divinity. I now understand why nuns were picketing the theater.

Even more perplexing is the issue of Christ's divinity, which I presume is the main reason behind the Catholic establishment's apoplexy. If God chose to roam the desert in flesh for thirty odd years, I presume he drank and pissed, coughed up phlegm, suffered from the occasional diarrhea and maybe even sprayed the front row audience during His sermons. If these fluid mishaps do not detract from His divinity, why will the fact that He may have knocked up a girl and bore a child? (If it so pleases the faithful, assume the god gene is recessive, or prone to mutation, which is the impression one gathers anyway after watching Ms. Tattoo's performance). The story tackles the Vatican's fetishism by inventing an even more ludicrous one, involving lineage and dynasty. It reduces theology to a paternity test.

Ultimately, the movie does one great service to humanity. Sitting through this crucifiction for two hours, you get a sense of what crucifixion must have been like. Thank you Ron Howard, and sorry, Jesus. We owe you one, man.