Complete A-Z list


Agora

4/10

Stars: Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac, Rupert Evans, Sami Samir, Michael Lonsdale, Richard Durden, Ashraf Barhom, Charles Thake

Director: Alejandro Amenábar

Fourth century Alexandria. The ruling Egyptians attack the increasingly influental Christians over some imagined insult. As a result, they find themselves overrun and their beloved library sacked. Among the fugitives is Hypathia (Weisz), an astronomer/philosopher whose work is centuries ahead in its field. She refuses to let her library students, two of whom, Orestes (Isaac) and the slave Davus (Minghella), dote on her, join the fight: as a result they survive.

Years go by and the Christians, clearly the bad guys in all this, and led by the sinister Cyril (Samir), are now oppressing the Jewish minority - the cue for further bloodshed.

If you find all this confusing, you're not alone. Even given the film's massively impressive sets, I was bored rigid, in spite of Weisz's best efforts to make Hypathia a compelling human being. Unfortunately, some of her younger co-stars can't act much, and the dialogue is arch at best; the chaos and the stonings seem to go on for ever until the film finally staggers to a halt with the help of some explanatory titles. The endless end credits include one for 'weather reports'. Whatever next?

David Quinlan

Spain/Malta/UK 2009. UK Distributor: Paramount. Colour by deluxe.
127 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 19 Apr 2010