Mel Gibson’s re-creation of the last day of the life of Jesus (with a poetic coda depicting the Resurrection) is a powerful, wrenching experience that makes all previous films on the subject, from The King of Kings
(1927) to Jesus Christ Superstar
(1973), look like Sunday-school pageants, and it’s not for the squeamish or the immature. Gibson’s decision to have his actors speak in Latin and Aramaic, combined with Francesco Frigeri’s hyper-real production design and the burnished photography of Caleb Deschanel, gives the film a time-machine effect: It seems to be taking place at the other end of a telescope looking back 2,000 years. With such an overpowering film, it’s almost trivial to talk about performances, but notice especially Maia Morgenstern as Mary and Hristo Naumov Shopov as Pontius Pilate.