Agora

"OK"

Agora Review


Ambitious in scope, this film feels over-serious and oddly cold. Fans of historical dramas may love it, but you're in trouble when theories about the sun and earth are more involving than the interpersonal dramas.

In 4th century Alexandria, Hypatia (Weisz) is a noted philosopher who teaches at the famed library. But the world around her is changing, as Greek and Egyptian beliefs conflict with Christians and Jews. And with the Roman Empire gaining power, the Christians have the edge. As Hypatia continues to explore her far-advanced theories about the earth and the universe, she finds herself caught between two men who love her: loyal servant Davus (Minghella) and the civic leader Orestes (Isaac). And the fundamentalist Romans aren't happy with her radical thoughts.

This is an odd misstep for Amenabar, who usually keeps his focus on people over spectacle to tell character-stretching stories. Those elements are here, but they're battered into submission by the film's lavish scale, with vast sets and a cast of thousands (both are probably digitally enhanced). It looks fascinating, avoiding the shiny bombast of Hollywood-style productions for something much more gritty and realistic. And the character-based story at least holds our interest even if it fails to make its point.

Weisz is terrific in an underwritten role that essentially requires her to send one tear down a cheek every 30 minutes or so. But this is a complex, intelligent woman who was way ahead of her time (her theories were unproven until more than a thousand years after her death). Her scenes with Minghella and Isaac generate some brainy emotion, and the supporting cast is also strong.

Although it's not easy to keep them straight beyond the villainous bishop (Samir), the rabble-rouser (Barhom) and the devout student (Evans).

We can feel Amenabar straining for a sweeping-epic tone, which never works because the story lacks emotional clarity. As a result, the dialog sounds stiff and meaningless, and the lack of sharp edges makes it feel more like a dull, ponderous TV movie than a big-screen blockbuster. Maybe it would have been more effective as a TV series in which characters and the tensions between them could have been deepened into something more satisfying.



Agora

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 127 mins

In Theaters: Friday 9th October 2009

Box Office USA: $0.6M

Box Office Worldwide: $38.4M

Budget: $70M

Distributed by: Newmarket Films

Production compaines: Mod Producciones, Himenóptero, Telecinco Cinema, Canal+ España, Government of Malta, Nimar Studios

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 53%
Fresh: 47 Rotten: 42

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: Alvaro Augustin,

Starring: as Hypatia, as Davus, as Orestes, as Ammonius, as Theon, as Synesius, as Aspasius, as Cyril, as Olympius, Omar Mostafa as Isidorus, Manuel Cauchi as Theophilus, Oshri Cohen as Medorus, as Hierax, Yousef Sweid as Pierre, as Sidonia, Charles Thake as Hesiquius, Harry Borg as Prefect Evragius, Sam Cox as Pagan Rival, as Heladius Dignitary, Sylvester Morand as Dignitary, Paul Barnes as Dignitary, Jordan Kiziuk as Hypatia's Disciple, Francis Ghersci as Hypatia's disciple, Jonathan Grima as Hypatia's Disciple, Christopher Dingli as Student, Stephen Buhagiar as Parabalano, Joseph Camilleri as Parabolano, Charles Sammut as Philosopher, Michael Sciortino as Philosopher, Joe Quattromani as Old Philosopher, Alan Meadows as Rabbi, Peter Borg as Pagan Priest, Portelli Paul as Troublemaker, Robert Ricards as Roman Officer, Alan Paris as Bodyguard, John Montanaro as Bodyguard, Malcolm Ellul as Bodyguard, Ray Mangion as Crier via Canopica, Mary Rose Bonello as Old Jewish Woman, as Parabolano, Andre Agius as Child, Frederick Testa as Christian, Sean Buhagiar as Christian student, Theresa Celia as Christian Woman, Frank Tanti as Deacon, Anthony Ellul as Deacon, Pierre Stafrace as Deacon, Christopher Raikes as Frightened Hellenic Man, Clare Agius as Frightened Hellenic Woman, Mario Camilleri as Alarmed Neighbour, Wesley Ellul as Guard, John Marinelli as Guard, Simon Cormi as Informer, Peter Galea as Roman officer, Nikovich Sammut as Roman Officer, Ronnie Galea as Ship's Captain, David Ellul-Mercer as Slave, Philip Mizzi as Surgeon, Alan Azzopardi as Suspicious Jew, Polly March as Woman with figs, Joe Pace as Stallkeeper, John Suda as Customer, Michael Tabone as Rabbi, Angele Galea as Charition, Malcolm Galea as Charition's Brother, Paul Celia as Indian King, Jean-Pierre Agius as Clown, Samuel Montague as Crier, Marieclaire Camilleri as Jewish Girl (uncredited), Edward Caruana Galizia as Student (uncredited), Guilherme de Franco as Roman Officer (uncredited), Juan Serrano as Dead Jew (uncredited), Novica Todorovic as Parabalano Fighter (uncredited)

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