The Young Messiah: Bestseller Adaptation Describes a Year in the Life of the Christ Child
(Photo by Philippe Antonello – © 2104 Focus Features, LLC)
2015 was a banner year for Christian-oriented movies, as over 30 faith-based films were released in theaters. 2016 appears to be following suit, with Risen, The Lady in the Van, and The Witch among the movies with religious overtones.
Directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh (The Stoning of Soraya M.), The Young Messiah is a Biblical story about critical events that transpired during a momentous year in the life of the Christ child (Adam Greaves-Neal). The intriguing historical drama was adapted from Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, a bestseller by Anne Rice. The foray into Christian-themed literature is a big change for Rice who earned Beliefnet’s 2005 Book of the Year for her work based on the Gospels.
The New Testament provides very little information about Jesus’s formative years, and this film convincingly fleshes them out. As the movie unfolds, we find Him living in Alexandria and behaving like your typical 7-year-old while His parents, Mary (Sara Lazzaro) and Joseph (Vincent Walsh), struggle with how to go about explaining the concept of God to His own Son.
We also learn that they have been living in exile because of King Herod’s (Jonathan Bailey) order to his army to execute all the young boys born in Bethlehem. The despot was determined to prevent the rumored Messiah from seizing the throne. Herod’s death allows the family to return home, although the obsessed centurion Severus (Sean Bean) is still searching for Jesus and sees Him lurking behind every rock.
Meanwhile, Jesus goes about healing His sick uncle, curing a blind rabbi, and bringing both a bully and a bird back from the dead. And He also performs many random acts of kindness.
However, He desperately searches for an explanation of these powers until Mary finally tells him about the Immaculate Conception, the Virgin Birth, and His divine destiny.
Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for violence and mature themes. Running time: 111 minutes. Distributor: Focus Features.