The Nativity Story

Rated 3.0

Writer Mike Rich and director Catherine Hardwicke recount the Biblical events leading to the birth of Jesus, opening with the slaughter of the innocents by King Herod (Ciarán Hinds), then flashing back to tell the story to that point, beginning with the late-life pregnancy of Elizabeth (Shohreh Aghdashloo), mother of John the Baptist, and proceeding through the pregnancy of Mary (Keisha Castle-Hughes) and her trek to Bethlehem with husband Joseph (Oscar Isaac). The film has a solemn, stately manner that seems calculated to simulate reverence rather than to express any genuine reverence from the filmmakers; the faithful will be satisfied (if not exactly inspired), while nonbelievers will note the plausible dramatic framework that Hardwicke and Rich construct for the familiar New Testament story.