***½

You want to know why… I did what I did? Because I wanted to… and because… I could. 

This movie has a traveling acting troop operating in the 14th Century.  Amongst this motley crew–by law I had to refer to them as such–a fallen priest, Nicholas (played by Paul Bettany) joins them as he is on the lam for extramarial sex and battery of the young lady’s husband who interrupts them.  It is worth noting that I chose the phrase “on the lam” before visiting the movie’s IMDb page.

I chose to watch this movie because I enjoyed Paul Bettany as a priest in The Da Vinci Code and I wanted to enjoy Legion or Priest, but those previews just looked so terrible.  Moreover, the cast boasts several other actors whose work I wanted to see more of: Brian Cox, Gina McKee, Tom Hardy, Willem Dafoe and Vincent Cassel.  I had no idea who the director was (Paul McGuigan) but has quite the resume–crap like Wicker Park and Lucky Number Slevin, but he also did two episodes of the fantastic new show Sherlock.  I could barely recognize Simon Pegg in a bit roll as the gaoler.

It’s interesting how the middle ages make even light fun seem a bit heavier, but the tension increases when the leaders of the acting troop realize that the condemned woman whose story they wish to tell just might be innocent.  The worse the situation gets–she’s condemned for murdering a boy–the sadder the situation is the more it is clear that these people are just actors and people with very little power.  In the end they find the power that storytellers have and use it in an interesting criticism of modern storytelling, which can be used to cement a lie.  Still, this sad story is one of hope, hope in the reminder that stories can push people into doing the right thing and that storytellers have an obligation to seek that truth.

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