Dave's Nativity Story Review
by Dave Minkus
December 1, 2006
Many people around my age (and younger) will choose the unforgettable scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas as their favorite telling of the Christmas story. The Nativity Story builds on that portion of the story that many people are familiar with by delving into the back-story of Mary (Keisha Castle-Hughes) and Joseph (Oscar Isaac).
Having grown up listening to and reading the Christmas story every year for 25 or more years, this film did something that is unexpected in the movie industry: The Nativity Story brings something new to the table. Instead of just portraying that Joseph decides to take Mary as his wife and go to Bethlehem, this film delves (admittedly, not very deeply) into what the couple faced in their society and how they were treated. Yes, there are artistic liberties taken with this film such as interactions they had on their journey, but they were very faithful to the story and weren't necessarily out of place.
The most pleasant surprise was that they didn't cast the film with a bunch of Anglo-Saxon white people who speak with British accents. The actors used in this film all spoke English with an appropriate accent, which I really appreciated. The biggest names in this film are Keisha Castle-Hughes (of Whale Rider) and Alexander Siddig, best known as Dr. Bashir on "Deep Space Nine." Where this lack of big names may hurt some films, all the actors turned in solid performances in this one.
The direction from Catherine Hardwicke wasn't spectacular, but it was very solid. While the implications of the story are grand and vast, Hardwicke manages to keep a very intimate feel in the film. While there are great landscapes used, the lack of grand, sweeping shots of the countryside was appreciated. The grace that the Nativity scene was filmed with was outright beautiful and worth the price of admission itself.
When it comes down to it, your interest in this story should gauge whether you see it or not. If you enjoy the Christmas story, this is a film worthy of your money. I can easily see The Nativity Story becoming a Christmas tradition in many homes across the country in the near future. If your interest is passing at best, this film won't change your life. It quite possibly might, however, get you into the Christmas spirit a little quicker.