The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc Movie Review
Luc Besson takes on a psychological journey in the beautiful yet twisted The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. What could have turned out to be the next Braveheart ends up being a collage of a fragmented mind that might venture just a little too far into the realm of originality.
Joan of Arc is an amazingly filmed movie and Besson takes no regret in throwing in glimpses of Joan's mind. What results is a superbly directed film with beautiful scenery, expressive cut scenes, and a new look at France's savior. Unfortunately, Besson takes his artistic freedom a little too far, amounting in a cluttered movie that tends to deal with whether she is psychotic or not, and not the history of this person. Originality in a movie that has pretty much been done before is usually good, but not always. Most Joan of Arc films say, "She was crazy, but she saved France." The Messenger says, "She saved France, but she was crazy." I wanted to see her save France.
There are a couple of immensely bloody battle scenes, which are the highlight of the film, but they don't amount to much. I can see more intricate battles in Braveheart and also see strategy; basically, Joan rampages onto the battlefield screaming and tells the men to attack... by luck, they manage to defeat the British. While the battles are impressive, they are not that fun to watch since all Joan does is scream. Furthermore, the battles take a backseat to Joan's inner workings. This brings me to my next point: Milla Jovovich. How do you play Joan of Arc? You could hear voices but still be a stable military leader, or, in this case, be a screaming lunatic that doesn't make much sense. In a way, she does do a good job with what she has to work at, but it is hard to overlook the fact that the title character is so obnoxious to watch you almost wish she'd burn at the stake. A lot of the lines Jovovich has are repetitive: "I am just the Messenger. I am doing God's work." Stuff like that. It doesn't sound good. And then, when she realizes how many people have died, she begins to look like her character from The Fifth Element. And then she wants to go and kill some more. By the end of the film, where she is talking with conscience (literally played by Dustin Hoffman. Yes, Dustin Hoffman is her conscience. How stupid is that?), you realize that she is psycho. Most Joan of Arc movies leave it up to the viewer to decide whether she was psycho or really hearing the words of God; The Messenger basically thrusts in your face that she is crazy. Well, that's the impression I got anyway.
Some might congratulate Luc Besson on his original take of France's Saint, but it is cluttered, confused, and forty minutes too long.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.