The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999)

Genres - Epic, Historical Film  |   Sub-Genres - Historical Epic, Biopic [feature], Hagiography  |   Release Date - Nov 12, 1999 (USA)  |   Run Time - 148 min.  |   Countries - France , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Lisa Kropiewnicki

Marketed as a modern spin on the Joan of Arc saga, The Messenger is no special delivery. The rape and murder of young Joan's sister is the first of many hard-to-watch moments in this expensive flop of a historical drama. Milla Jovovich's manic performance as Joan lacks the essence of complexity that director Luc Besson asks the audience to consider: is Joan truly a messenger of God or just plain "nuts," as one soldier declares. Such laughable anachronistic dialogue, the overdone breathy pleading, hysterical screaming, and watery blue-eyed stare of Jovovich, and the miscasting of Dustin Hoffman as Joan's Conscience retracts any credibility the film might have gained from a famed cast. John Malkovich gives an entertaining performance as the neurotic and effeminate Charles VII, Dauphin of France, while Faye Dunaway, as his mother-in-law, is interesting to watch -- mostly because of her costumes. The strongest minute of the movie is its final one, as Joan is burned alive while the holy men watch, raising their own symbols of (what they think is) God's will, suggesting a bold statement of hypocrisy by the director.