Paul, Apostle of Christ ★★

The unseen Nero casts a large shadow over the film's Rome, where Christians are immolated and forced to live in the shadows. And yet director Andrew Hyatt doesn't exactly make us feel the horror of this oppression in the pit of our stomachs, and not because his camera literally turns away from the film's most graphic depictions of violence. The film's narrative takes place across conspicuously clean sets that, like the garden where Mauritius holds court and gives good face like Oleanna Tyrell, felt as if they were built yesterday. Which is to say, the perfect setting for a Sunday school lesson about rejecting violence. Luke (Jim Caviezel) tending to Mauritius's daughter is an inevitability that weighs on the film almost as cumbersomely as Olivier Martinez's accent. No less of a burden but far more purposeful is Paul's (James Faulkner) oft-repeated “love is the only way,” a message that feels as necessary today as it was in A.D. 67.

Read the rest of my Slant Magazine review here.