In 14th-century England, a young monk breaks his vow of chastity and flees the wrath of his bishop and fellow monks. A fugitive priest, he then witnesses the murder of a traveling performer--and subsequently, the mourning of actor by his fellow troupe members. He eventually becomes initiated into the troupe as a player, replacing the murdered man. They travel from town to town performing their standard morality play. They arrive in a town where a boy has been killed and a young deaf-mute girl has been imprisoned for the crime--sentenced to death for witchcraft and murder. Discarding the expected bible stories, the actors stage a performance based on the crime. Through the performance of the play, they discover that the townspeople know the young woman did not, in fact, commit the murder. The stage becomes a place where vital human truth is told. Thus, simultaneously, the fugitive priest comes to terms with his own crime and makes a powerful sacrifice, thereby redeeming himself.
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Yes, I watched it eight times. Yes, I had to put my away messages on and set my alarms on my phone to remind me to go watch it, because it wasn't on demand. Yes, I only watched it for Paul Bettany's good acting. Little did I know that Willem Dafore was in here, and I already had a strong distatste for him in The Life Aquatic. But this movie was far from.Paul bettany plays an adultery committing-murdere on the run from being hung. So what does he do? Cut his wretched monk hair, leave behind his clothes, and plays it off as a common folk. Then, he gets attacked by an acting-troupe, and I get to see Paul cry for the first time, which is oddly, enjoyable. This is a movie for anyone who liked A Knight's Tale, but wanted some more serious tones and less rock music. Of course, a man of God does have to serve pennance for going so boldly against the Good Lord's teachings, and dies. Now THAT, made me cry.
**1/2"The Reckoning" is one of those movies that starts off well but then falls apart in the second half.Paul Bettany stars as Nicholas, a priest in the Middle Ages who is forced to flee his village when he is caught en flagrante with another man's wife. While hiding in the woods, he encounters a troupe of traveling actors who allow him to join their company. When they arrive at a nearby city, they discover that a woman there has just been sentenced to death for the murder of a young boy. When the troupe decides to reenact the crime in a performance for the townspeople, Nicholas, while doing the research, becomes convinced that the woman is innocent and that the lord of the town himself may be the guilty party.For the first half hour or so, the movie has us hooked with the novelty of the setting and the masterful way in which the art direction, costume design and cinematography capture the look and feel of life in late 14th Century England. The plot in its initial stages retains just enough ambiguity to keep us intrigued about where exactly it is headed. Unfortunately, about midway through the film, the story addresses that very question and it turns out to be a not very satisfactory answer. As Nicholas becomes more and more overtly involved with solving the mystery and more and more involved in the life of the villagers, the story itself become more and more contrived and melodramatic. We simply don't believe much of what we see happening on the screen, neither the acting troupe's dramatization of the events nor Nicholas' face-to-face confrontation with the evil lord of the city. The scenes in the story are put forward in such a theatrical way that the film begins to feel less like real life and more like the movies. It probably doesn't help that Bettany and Willem Dafoe as the head of the actor's ensemble deliver fairly bland, lackluster performances.I wanted to like "The Reckoning" very much, and for a while I really thought I would. But the elements just don't come together in any convincing, meaningful way and so we are left largely disappointed at the end.
An excellent murder mystery that just happens to be set in 1380 Europe.Paul Bettany is convincing as young priest with a terrible secret, andhe is lent able support by William Dafoe as the head of a ragtag actingtroupe and Brian Cox one the actors. The plot is as much a moralityplay as a thriller, and succeeds at both. Wonderful costuming andperiod detail (of course I wasn't around in 1380, but it certainlyfeels authentic, other than the usual perfectly aligned modern teeth).Terrific photography, to boot. Astute movie fans will recognize acouple of performers from BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF, to which this bearssome slight resemblance. They include Vincent Cassell in a small butpivotal role as the lord of the castle at which the troupe has arrivedjust as a series of brutal slayings is being secretly investigated byagents of the king. Highly recommended. But beware some graphic bits ofbusiness, along the lines of scenes in CRIMSON RIVERS (coincidentallyof which Cassell was the costar).
This review is from: The Reckoning (DVD) Sleeper in a good way. Really great performances especially from one of my favorite actors - Paul Bettany. The story line may be the only thing holding it back from being a really great movie. Could have been a little more creative in my opinion. As stated before - if you liked The Name of the Rose - you will like this.
I am a sucker for this kind of film, i.e. historical drama in some exoticplace (for a North American). There is a lot going on:The redemption of a fallen padre as exemplar of a Church in need ofreformation, a hypothesis about the beginning of western drama -- after all,SOMEBODY had to come up with the idea -- and the strange paths that thehuman psyche can take when a man presides over society but also cut off fromit. Mix this in with a Europe not recovered economically or psychologicallyfrom the after-shocks of the Black Death, possibly three, and you have aninteresting situation. Then too, there is the mystery story . ...The physical setting seems meticulously recreated insofar as I can judge asa non-mediaeval scholar. Certainly more than one good woman practisedmedicine without a license for the people a physician would not bother tosee. A sharp-featured nobleman with a Pan's beard in red leather strikes oneas much, but as a type specimen he is fascinating. Dafoe is wonderful. Eventhough a bit "Hollywood," as foretold by the angry dyer the final scenesymbolises what is in store for the whole mediaeval order.
This review is from: The Reckoning (Amazon Instant Video) I loved Barry Unsworth's Morality Tale so much. It totally captivated me, and I have reread it many times. Within a small story, not of kings or rich men, but poor players at one of medieval England's darkest hours historically--the novel examines not only crime and the abuse of power but the opening of the medieval mind and the birth of a new art form. It's rare and wonderful to find a historical novelist creating an appealing work of fiction --one that is set within a certain time frame but doesn't detail every aspect of the period and transcends it with a universally appealing--well , morality tale--without once succumbing to melodrama.In the book, the young priest was a witness to to the story--and the story itself was driven by the imagination of the lead player, Martin, and his love for the condemned woman--accused of a heinous crime.Here, we needlessly get the noble (they literally elevated him to the nobility in this version) ninja priest driving the action, and a storyline focusing on the power aspects primarily, ending with a ridiculous showdown. I did enjoy the the way it was lit and shot, and the cast was fine given what they had to work with.
Was Just wondering does Paul Bettany's character die in the end of themovie because it stuffed up on my DVD and i never got to see the end ofit but of what i saw it was an excellent movie one that really suckedyou in and made you want to watch more and find out what happened nextand Bettany's big inspirational speeches are just pure brilliance theygive me goose bumps William Dafoe as always the cool chilling charactermaking you not want to get on the wrong side of him thanks see youApparently I have to write more lines so don't read this it is just aload of it so it will let me submit my comment i think this should beenough lines
The Reckoning is an engaging but not always entirely successfulmedieval murder/conspiracy thriller that probably aimed to tap into the'Name of the Rose' market only to be shelved for so long you could havemistaken it for a Miramax movie. I first saw the film in 2001 more thantwo years before its blink-and-you'll-miss-it theatrical release, andin the interim it went through some tweaking and rescoring, althoughthis is mainly for the better - the ending seems a little tighter(although the fate of the killer still fails to convince) and VincentCassell's Norman lord is introduced much earlier into the proceedings,which helps considerably (in the previous cut he was a remote, facelesspresence for most of the movie), although Gina McKee's role seems lesssubstantial than I remember.There are still problems in the film, including a couple of weakperformances (the usually reliable Ewan Bremner and a flat anddisinterested Matthew McFadyen in particular), and the impressive setstill looks more like the Spanish mountains than the Yorkshire Dales,but there's still much to admire in this tale of a priest on the runwho falls in with a group of travelling actors only to find a chancefor redemption when, while performing a play about a child murder in avillage, he discovers that the deaf and dumb healer sentenced to hangfor the crime is clearly innocent. Paul Bettany is fine in the lead,although Willem Dafoe inadvisedly succumbs to the siren call ofattempting a Yorkshire accent and ending up with something very oddindeed (previous victims include Donald Sutherland in 'Revolution'),and you can even spot 'Shaun of the Dead's Simon Pegg in a brief bit asa gaoler. Despite being a little too fond of overhead shots here, PaulMcGuigan's an interesting director with talent to burn who has yet tomake an entirely successful film, but this is still well worth a look.
I am not a movie critic and I do not like many movies that come out of the Hollywood, but I must say that The Reckoning is really an outstanding movie! It describes the life of the common people in the medieval England. Morality and Justice is the bottom line in it. The actors, the director and other staff had done the great job. However, The Reckoning is not the movie for everyone because the plot is rather complicated and it is performed more like a play than the movie. But if you like history and a good dramatic movie - The Reckoning is for you!For those who would like to see similar movies I would recommend to see the Luther (the story of a spiritual leader, German monk Martin Luther who translated the Holy Bible into the German language)
It is very refreshing to see a film set in this era, this one was more authentic than many, though very far from perfect. Its small scale picture of life was also a very pleasant change from the usual historical mockbuster aimed at boosting some idiot actor/directors ego. What it let it down for me was the embarrassing script, so common in Hollywood movies also, which felt as if it was written by an intelligent sixteen year old who doesn't get out much.
The film pairs the director Paul McGuigan with lead actor Paul Bettanyonce more; Bettany was the star, though not the lead name, ofMcGuigan's 2000 film 'Gangster No 1', Bettany's breakthrough role.Set in medieval/feudal times the film's plot pits the poor people, theserfs, against the noble elite, the lords. The conviction of a woman,set to be hanged, for the murder of a boy, is the backdrop to atravelling group of actors of the Royal Court arriving in the hamlet tostage their uninspired morality plays based on scenes from the Bible.In their midst is a priest (Bettany), who is on the run for a crime ofhis own. Inspired by the murder the actors decide to stage a play oftheir own creation the first enactment of which leads to the discoverythat the woman due to be hanged is not guilty of the murder. Whatfollows is a series of reckonings in which there is an ultimatereckoning for the priest.The film cast is an eclectic one (American, British and Spanish) withmany well known and fine actors. Not all are well employed thoughBettany, Dafoe (dodgy regional English accent aside) and Elvira Minguez(who plays the wrongfully convicted mute Martha) give strongperformances. Bettany and Minguez are especially good, playing theirrespective roles with passion and emotion. For any Bettany fan this ishighly recommended as he does what he does best - look beautiful whilstcombining cynicism with earnestness.The mood and feeling of the medieval period, sometimes described as thedark ages, is really well captured and there is a strong sense ofausterity, chilliness and mystery/menace throughout. The director useslighting well: an early scene, illustrative of this, shows Bettanycutting his hair to rid him of the emblematic hairstyle of a priest. Ablue filter is used conveying ice and water metaphors for the coldexistence of a priest now cast out. Moments like this make the filmquite compelling viewing.The film is rather ambitious trying to show religious collusion withcorrupt politics, man's struggle with God, injustice, the lot andpolitics of being an actor in this era as well as ordinary moraltorments. It possibly would have been more effective if the directorhad focused on just one of these themes.I can imagine this gaining cult status in time not least for the scenesin which Dafoe practises Ashtanga Yoga poses. Really.
THE RECKONING is a handsome, evocative drama set in 1300 England, a land bereft with poverty, plague and cruelty. A disgraced priest, wonderfully embodied by Paul Bettany, leaves the priesthood and joins up with a traveling band of actors, led by the ubiquitous and effective Willem Dafoe. They enter a village where a deaf mute woman has been convicted of the murder of a young lad. Evidence uncovered by the actors convinces them that the woman is innocent, and they set out to prove it by staging an original play, something out of the ordinary for the times. Most plays were religiously oriented, and this departure spoke of things to come. How the actors, particularly Bettany, come to prove the young woman's innocence forms the core of the movie, and although slow in pacing, it is nevertheless intriguing and very well done. Vincent Cassel as the Lord Dubose, Matthew McFadyen as the King's Justice and Brian Cox as one of the actors are outstanding in supporting roles.A Very atmospheric film, quite original in its context (although NAME OF THE ROSE entered this territory earlier). A good and different film.
Hey folks, look! It's Scooby Doo meets CSI in the FOURTEENTH century! A traveling band of actors decides to investigate a murder??? Its the dark ages, but a one-man exhumation (in frozen ground, no less!) is performed along with a rudimentary autopsy and the details of rigor mortis are common knowledge! wow, what history books did these guys read? The production design and costumes were well done - outside of that, give me a break. No attempt was made to make the dialogue sound even remotely accurate for the times, and the pacing was tediously slow. Not a good flick overall.
I enjoyed the book by Barry Unsworth titled, "Morality Play." Although slight, it has a lot of atmosphere, fine writing and period detail. The main problem with the movie is in the casting. Willem Dafore is fine as the Player's leader, even though I would have preferred a British actor in the role. The rest of the cast add nothing to their underwritten parts. A charismatic lead might have compensated, but Paul Bettany is so utterly colorless that he drags the movie down until it is impossible for it to recover. Tedious!
Comparisons to "The Name of the Rose" are inevitable, and for my part, this movie falls just below "Rose". Still, I would recommend this movie for anyone interested in moving beyond the typical exploding car movie and/or the inane stories that pass for romantic comedies these days.I very much enjoyed the acting and some of the scenes felt like they were shot with a handcam, giving one the feel of "real life" coverage. (Alas that there was something about these scenes that made me pay more attention to the cinemaphotgraphy and less to the story ...).Previous reviewer's comments about anachronistic languages and/or customs are accurate, but I doubt that there has been a movie made in the past 20 years that would completely pass the non-anachronistic test (if nothing else, one would claim that the language of the script wasn't period ... and if a movie DID use period language, then people would complain that they couldn't understand it! All of which places directors in a rather lose/lose scenario...)All in all, a good movie.
I had just rented "The Reckoning" last night with no high expectations. To say the lease, I was blown away by a simple story with incredible and emotional undertones. "The Reckoning" is a tale of unlucky heroes , justice, and redemption. However, I found the tale to be much, much more than that. "The Reckoning" is more than just a murder mystrey and tale of redemption. It`s story of good verus evil as well. (See the ending to understand this point.) Good verus evil? Yes, it`s undertone, but yes it`s there. I will admit sometimes I wonder what the good Lord(GOD) is up to? Anyone who has that question can relate to our anti-heroes as they investigate a murder of a boy, only to find a more sinster truth. I am being incredibly vauge. I do apologise. I hope that those looking for a good movie will give "The Reckoning" a chance.
This review is from: The Reckoning (DVD) The acting was very good, also the sense of history, costumes, etc. Willem Dafoe was wonderful, as usual. But the script was pedestrian and corny, a great disappointment.
The Reckoning is only a moderately satisfying film. I enjoyed theMiddle-Ages scenario and the design of the film was suitably primitive. Asfar as its being a murder mystery, though, I'm afraid it telegraphs itsmoves, leaving not much to the imagination. And while it's wonderful to seesuch a good ensemble of actors, they certainly did their share of carpetchewing. Paul Bettany's share of the carpet chewing, however, left medisappointed. Frankly, I don't think Bettany is heavyweight enough to bethe main protagonist in this sort of film, and after seeing his wonderfulperformance in A Knight's Tale - especially his great comedic speech at thejoust - I was somewhat disappointed to see him do a reprise of the same typeof speech - though not comedic - at one point in The Reckoning. In short,Bettany's persona as a leading-man falls short of his talents as asupporting actor. He certainly can't be regarded as being on the same levelas his co-star Willem Defoe, and he'd even be hard pressed to match theperformance of supporting players the caliber of Brian Cox. Sorry, but goodactor though he is, Bettany lacks charisma. Nevertheless, I'd like to havehim to prove me wrong. In any event, go see this film. It's certainlybetter than 95% of the rest of the movies out there.
With organic and nimble imagery mixed with the delicate,yetstirring power of theatre, The Reckoning transports us to atimethat reverberates power, repression and ultimately the primalwill of truth which explodes through the storylines carried byitsfugitive Priest(a commanding Paul Bettany), the mourning troupeof actors(led by Willem DeFoe and Brian Cox), and the slathering,deviant Lord ( an immersed Vincent Cassel). A thoroughlyengaging movie, some forgiveable problems with the climax.Great production design with a frighteningly wonderful senseofperiod and enclosure within the forests and villages. Abrilliantpiece for the actor searching for meaning and truth in all ofus!
The Reckoning ***Â½ of *****Contains *minor* spoilers.Saw this film the other night, as it's been out here in Sweden for thepasttwo years (I even saw it as a low-price DVD (about $9) in astore).The story takes place in 14:th century England and we get to follow theyoung priest Nicholas (brilliant English actor Paul Bettany) who, aftercommitting adultery and murder (or possibly manslaughter), decides toleavehis priesthood behind himself and flees the town he works in. He runs intoagroup of traveling actors (Willem Dafoe, Brian Cox and others) and gets tojoin them.Basically, the group performs stories from the bible, but after arrivingina town where a woman is accused of murder, the master player (playedbrilliantly by Dafoe) decides that the group will put on a play about themurder instead of their usual bible plays.Paul Bettanys character tries to solve the murder, as he believes thewomanis innocent. The priest wants forgiveness for his own acts of adultery andmurder and tries to do so by helping someone who is wrongly convicted foracrime and to find the one who really did it.I certainly liked this film. The photography is excellent, as well as theactors. The pace of the film is moderate, I believe another twenty minutesmight have been appropriate to evolve the story even further (especiallytheending is a bit...unevolved). Vincent Cassel (french actor from, amongothers, The Brotherhood of the Wolf and Shrek) does a great job as theevilfeudal lord, but he's unfortunately only in the film (with lines anyway)thelast ten minutes or so.All together a good film, well worth seeing in the cinema orrenting.