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The Book of Life1998

  • 3.4
In this darkly comic retelling of the Apocalypse, Jesus (Martin Donovan) arrives at JFK airport with intriguing assistant, Magdalena (PJ Harvey). While the world ponders the meaning of this second coming, Jesus battles the Devil for human souls, risks the wrath of God and struggles with himself over whether these lives are worth saving. THE BOOK OF LIFE presents an unrelenting kaleidoscope of fast-moving images and hear-pounding music that perfectly captures a techno-driven, computerized and postmodernist world.

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2 members like this review

The oldest story on the planet, done current. great photography, great music, superb editing. Acting quite good. All in all; engaging.

Member Reviews (6)

The oldest story on the planet, done current. great photography, great music, superb editing. Acting quite good. All in all; engaging.

2 members like this review
top reviewer

Hal Hartley's almost defiant anti-perfectionist style is an acquired taste, but once you have it he's hard to resist. The Book of Life is a film that certainly misses the mark, but boy is it cute when it tries. Its meandering pontificating may be hard to stomach for some, but if you can get passed that you will definitely find some gems hidden away in its well-meaning, though somewhat wrong-headed, philosophizing. You may even find yourself, as I did, bursting out in a few genuine guffaws.

1 member likes this review

Great. All should watch as a double feature: Go in the Wilderness for the beginning and the Book of Life for the end. The Alphas and the Omega!!

top reviewer

Terrible acting, directing, story, dialogue, cinematography. The characters are laughable, gringe-worthy, and shallow. The story is tedious and unoriginal. The theology is berserk. It must have been based upon The Book of Revelations Cliff Notes. The Book of Life seems slapped together by very lazy people trying to be all that.

Y2K! The end of time; Jesus vs Satan (not very tech savy thank g) PJ Harvey's music Hickockian angles; mics in strange places; and color filters and fuzzy shots. Happy outcome; Son of Man not giving away future events.

Hal Hartley’s low-budget legacy almost takes us by the hand once again.....although one of his laziest 'films', THE BOOK OF LIFE departs with Hartley’s reoccurring collaborator Martin Donovan characterized as Jesus, who reluctantly returns to earth as a ranting, clean shaven, blue-eyed thirty-something white boy in a suit. With P.J.Harvey as his muse- the often silent but contemplating (Mary) Magdalena, who could potentially be ‘God’ herself - or at least this is what you could have only hoped would have been the case if Hartley had given her more than a few lines. A modern day version of Screwtape Letters? Not even close, and barely worth the wait of the last scene. Are we then as an audience trying desperately to undergo hypnosis by the Shoegaze-grundge-dub-step soundtrack, or are we just hungry for the nostalgie of slow motion video and apocalyptic dialogue? Most likely.... even so, THE BOOK OF LIFE doesn't do it for me. With one liner’s like “…..wham, your addicted to human beings " and “ the potential for synthetically fabricated organic diseases. “, this Hartley will get your attention but definitely one of his weakest pieces conceptually. Ego on the rocks.