Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
Original title: La Passione Di Giosue L’Ebreo
Italy/Spain, 2005. Arbash Societa’ Cooperativa, Institut del Cinema Català, Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali. Screenplay by Nennella Bonaiuto, Pasquale Scimeca. Cinematography by Pasquale Mari. Produced by Rosario Calanni Macchio, Joan Antoni Gonzalez, Rosa Scimeca. Music by Miriam Meghnagi. Production Design by Eva Desideri, Osvaldo Desideri. Costume Design by Grazia Colombini, Giulia Mafai. Film Editing by Babak Karimi.
The title sounds like you’re about to watch a satire on Mel Gibson’s gaudy religious epic, but it’s actually a fascinating drama with a powerful message. In 15th century Spain, Queen Isabella has expelled Jews from the entire land and sent them further east into Europe. A humble, simple young man named Joshua treks across the land with his family and under the protection of a Jewish court elder who believes the boy to be the real Messiah. Upon arrival in Italy, Joshua starts to wonder where the logic in anti-Semitism lies if Jesus himself, who is the crux of the argument, was a Jew? Becoming favoured by the clergy of a Neapolitan church, Joshua is invited to participate in their annual Passion Play and ends up angering them so much with his revolutionary questions about religion that art becomes life before the audience’s very eyes. Incendiary in its blunt attitude towards its subject, this wonderful film does a great job of putting forth a plainly obvious statement about the intolerance and religious ignorance that has surrounded the treatment of Jews in the world since Christianity took hold of western civilization. The audience’s interest might lag a bit in the middle, but the ending is impressive for being either boldly dramatic or shamelessly contrived.
Toronto International Film Festival: 2005