Mary is a 2005 drama thriller film, written and directed by American director Abel Ferrara. The film stars Juliette Binoche, Forest Whitaker, Marion Cotillard, Matthew Modine and Heather Graham.
The film premiered at the 2005 Venice Film Festival where it won the Special Jury Prize as well as 3 smaller awards. The film also played at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, Deauville Film Festival and San Sebastián International Film Festival.
Following the shooting of a film on the life of Jesus called This Is My Blood, Marie Palesi (Juliette Binoche), the actress who plays Mary Magdalene takes refuge in Jerusalem in search of the truth behind the story.
The director of the film, Tony Childress (Matthew Modine), who also plays Jesus, can think of only one thing: self-promotion.
In New York, television journalist Ted Younger (Forest Whitaker) presents a programme about the life of Jesus.Juliette Binoche – Marie Palesi/Mary Magdalene
Forest Whitaker – Ted Younger
Matthew Modine – Tony Childress/Jesus
Heather Graham – Elizabeth Younger
Marion Cotillard – Gretchen Mol
Stefania Rocca – Brenda Sax
Francine Berting – Nurse #2
Giovanni Capalbo – Police man
Massimo Cortesi – Priest
Ettore D'Alessandro – Apostle Andrew
Alex Grazioli – Apostle Matthew
Emanuela Iovannitti – Johanna, Mary's follower
Marco Leonardi – Apostle Peter
Amos Luzzatto – himself
Thure Riefenstein – Silvanus
Gisella Marengo – Nurse Nicu
Mario Opinato – Apostle James
Gabriella Wright – TV technician
Jean Yves Leloup
One of the central concerns of Mary is the examination of the feminine within the Catholic tradition. Like The Da Vinci Code the film puts forward the theory that Mary Magdalene is much more significant than the Catholic Gospels would suggest. However while The Da Vinci Code suggests that Mary Magdalene was the lover or wife of Jesus, Ferrara's film presents the theory that she was in fact one of the disciples and a trusted confidante of Christ.
Mary presents three narrative threads which represent the three elements of the Trinity.
Marie Palesi on her spiritual quest and her relationship with Mary Magdalene represents the Holy Spirit.
Ted Younger, whose wife has just given birth, represents God the Father.
Tony Childress (literally Childress) represents God the Son.
Screens play an important part in Mary. Each of the three main protagonists are involved in the moving image. Marie Palesi is an actress. Tony Childress is a director and actor, while Ted Younger presents a religious TV programme. Ferrera presents constant images of cinema and TV screens. Younger watches constant images of violence from the middle east. He is presented as being somewhat separated from reality, engaging through screens of different sorts. New York City is seen only through his car window, he gazes at his baby son through the glass of an incubator and looks at his wife's reflection in a mirror.
Upon its release Mary immediately divided critics and viewers alike."A sincere grapple with faith and redemption in cynical times." – Leslie Felperrin, Variety
"Somehow turns confusion into a concise study on what it means to believe in God in this day and age." – Chris Cabin, Filmcritic.com
"..both Forest Whitaker and Juliette Binoche (as with the rest of the cast) give such amazing performances that they should be added to the list of the best work of their careers." – Michael Ferraro, Film Threat
"Ferrara presents his ideas in what's meant to be a meditation on the nature of faith but ends up an incoherent, pretentious mess." – Josh Bell, Las Vegas Weekly
"Some critics went as far as rebaptising (excuse the pun) the director "Unable Ferrara" after the press screening here in Venice." – Boyd van Hoeij, Europeanfilms.net
"Murky and forgettable." – Ray Bennett, The Hollywood Reporter
The original soundtrack was written by Francis Kuipers."Mary (prologue)" – 1.53
"They Took my Lord" – 6.15
"Disciples & Discord" – 4.04
"Street Attack" – 1.06
"Mary in the Desert" – 3.54
"Gnostic Gospel" – 3.29
"Women at Sea" – 1.56
"Sacred Heart" – 3.18
"Among Believers" – 2.50
"Holy Land Explosion" – 1.25
"Madness of God" – 3.36
"This is my Blood" – 5.43
"Hidden Scripture" – 2.53
"Mary (Epilogue)" – 3.35
Francis Kuipers – Guitar
Miriam Butler – Bassoon
David Barittoni – Voices
Giulio Luciani – Viola, violin
Roberto Bellatalla – Double Bass
Paola Di Silvestro – Soprano
Fabio Colucci – Music producer and mixer
Recorded at Herzog Studios, Rome (Italy)Venice Film Festival 2005
Grand Jury Prize
Mimmo Rotella Foundation Award
Sergio Trasatti Award
The French poster for Mary features a woman praying at an altar. The image was taken in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. The film was the first film to be allowed film in the actual church.