The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc Reviews

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½ April 15, 2018
I whole heartedly disagree with the score for this movie. I loved it the first time years ago, and re-watched it again recently and it's still fantastic. People may not like this film as it could come across as far fetched. This did actually happen! In my view this is also highlights just how incredible an actress Milla Jovavich is.
March 26, 2018
The cast does its best, but Luc Besson's version of Joan of Arc is one-sided and wildly uneven.
February 17, 2018
The older I get the more enamored I become with this portrayal of Joan, in big part owing that to Mila Jovovich's performance - she *is* Joan of Arc.
November 4, 2016
Un Besson encore pas trop mal. Meme si le film ne relate pas vraiment la verite, le general y est et on comprend qui etait cette Sainte. J'aimerais bien un remake de ce film avec des batailles plus grandiose.
August 4, 2016
One of the most blatant peices of Historical Revisionism that I have ever seen. The combat scenes are quality.
½ May 26, 2016
The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc boasts some excellent battle scenes, and a decent if over-acted performance by Milla Jovovich. The villains are all hands rubbing mustache twirling piece of cardboard, from rapist British soldiers to evil English lords. There is a sense of doubt to her visions, which was an interesting way to tell the story but overall this epic adventure film sort of falls flat.
½ May 23, 2016
good version of this often told n re-told bio/historical pic
½ March 18, 2016
1429. While the war between France and England (the Hundred Years War) appeared settled in 1420, in England's favour, the death of King Henry V of England reignites it. England occupies large areas of France and appears set to take the whole of it. Into this moment of crisis rides legendary Joan of Arc, a teenage girl who claims to be lead by divine visions.

A pretty bad telling of the Joan of Arc story, for so many reasons. Most noticeably, the performances are almost universally hammy. Milla Jovovic only got the part of Joan because she was married to director Luc Besson at the time, and looked the part. Her acting is all over the place.

John Malkovich is okay in his role. Dustin Hoffman can't act badly, but here he gets a character that makes for some of the weirder, more pretentious moments of the movie.

Supporting cast largely overact: French soldiers are generally gung ho, laugh-in-the-face-of-danger heroes, English are brutal, one-dimensional villains. With such bad acting on such a wide scale one can only think that this is how Luc Besson wanted them to act.

On that note, a very irritating aspect of the movie is how the French are portrayed as wonderful heroes and the English as mindless thugs. The whole movie amounted to nothing more than pro-French, anti-English propaganda. I know the director is French, but I didn't know the English and French were currently at war...

Quite a lot of padding too, drawing out the movie. So many scenes that seemed unnecessary.

About the only positive parts are the battle scenes. These are well staged and are quite gritty and realistic.
December 3, 2015
Awesome battle scenes and a satisfying trail at the end carry this movie, however the vision scenes are a montage of bad 90s music video clips and the lack of clear narrative in the first 20 sec sink this film.
November 4, 2015
Though I hardly had the biggest expectations for either Milla Jovovich or Luc Besson to fully deliver on a film about The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, I had hopes set at perhaps some kind of spectacle at least.

Joan of Arc is a notorious female icon whose legacy has been emulated by many filmmakers. However, I have seen or read no prior depictions of her life story which were not mere pop culture parodies and so Luc Besson's version of the tale is the first feature length Joan of Arc narative. Luc Besson lacks a track record for maintaining narratives which have fidelity to real history or genuine sensible thought, yet at the same time he has a real talent for crafting films with strong female characters. The question of which of these paths he will take in The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc is answered within a short matter of time.
The first sign that The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc is going to be bad occurs within few seconds of the introduction. This is the intro credits covering the contextual French history surrounding For one thing this is a lot of context to cover in meagre seconds, but more importantly the text is determined to look so definitive of the era in which the tale is set that it ends up being all fancy. Fancy to the extent that it is actually very difficult to read, particularly within the few amount of seconds given to the viewers. This suggests that Luc Besson does not have a strong sense of how to communicate with his audience, but what he proves is that he is even lesser in sensing what story he is actually telling.
As the title suggests, the film is about Joan of Arc. But you wouldn't figure that out from actually watching the movie. It's far more about trying to bridge Besson's Cinema Du Look style into an attempt to capitalize on the success he just experienced collaborating with Milla Jovovich on The Fifth Element. The problem is that cinema du look films are distinct for essentially being about nothing, yet a film about Joan of Arc has to be about something. That something has to be, you guessed it, Joan of Arc. Luc Besson seems so divorced from that concept so I can't understand why he attempted to undertake something so far from what he is genuinely good at. The narrative starts out poor and eventually reduces itself to nothing more than a repetitively structured series of melodramatic conversations with battle scenes between them, so distant from anything that Joan of Arc actually represents in any way shape or form that even viewers like me who have no idea what she means can be certain that neither does Luc Besson. The spectacle is still there because the scenery and production design is captured with atmospheric cinematography and a slightly grim colour scheme, making it a treat on the eyes. But it is no treat on the mind, rather an insult to the intelligence of viewers and particularly those who find Joan of Arc's story to be inspiring. Few will gather that feeling from The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc as its genuine appearance clashes with a feeling of bluntly artificial storytelling which cannot even be saved by the rich musical score.
The success of the film is very much determined based on how well the film characterizes the titular character Joan of Arc. And of course, it is important to consider the role that the lead actress plays in achieving this. Prior to The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, Milla Jovovich received international recognition for her collaboration with director Luc Besson on the science fiction blockbuster The Fifth Element. To make the leap from something so lighthearted and ridiculously silly to something significantly more legitimate and historically relevant to the extent of someone as notorious as Joan of Arc is a ridiculous bridge for both to be crossing. And neither of them successfully make it, yet Milla Jovovich is plagued with a more visually notorious failure in this regard. It's already enough that the film characterizes Joan of Arc as a PTSD suffering schizophrenic, but Milla Jovovich is achingly miscast. She seems to oscillate between portraying the humane vulnerability of the character with hints of her larger-than-life status without ever sitting on one or portraying either convincingly. When Milla Jovovich first enters the screen, she could not feel any more vulnerable. For a woman considered a symbol of strength, I felt nothing but a weak performance in an attempt to capture a weak-willed person. Her face seems confused as to what's going on, the same way viewers are. It's as if she can't comprehend the film any better than we can. So we can empathize with her in that sense, but a person this befuddled does not need to be in any film, let alone the starring role of a film about Joan of Arc. In comparison to her effort in The Fifth Element, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc serves solely to solidify that Milla Jovovich should limit herself to gimmicky role more fitting of the extent that she can act. Her voice pierces when she attempts to take command of the characters around her which conveys no strength, and the lack of tenacity in her just means she loses sight of what she's doing.
Even an actor I respect as much as John Malkovich cannot save The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. He is the best actor in the film, yet it is hardly anything to be proud of based on the standard. He captures some kind of mix between comedic antagonism and genuine egotism, minimal in genuine drama but not bereft of his own natural charms. John Malkovich's natural attitude has certain appeal in The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc simply because he is John Malkovich, but the credibility of the story does not pay him any favours and he can only boost it ever so slightly.
Faye Dunaway is nice to see and she has some brief moments of dramatic flair, but she has minimal character to her. And why Dustin Hoffman has anything to do with this production is beyond me as he is worth far more than the brief cameo Luc Besson sticks him with. His character doesn't have any relevance and his screen time is too small for anyone to appreciate his existence, so there is nothing there for him.

So The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc certainly boasts a sense of style, but its pretentious lack of narrative in a film which should actually have one proves that Luc Besson is no better at respecting viewers than Milla Jovovich is at being a lead actress.
½ October 17, 2015
Actually enjoy watching Luc Besson' s version!!
½ August 13, 2015
Compelling real life source material meets Luc Besson's unique and take with a stellar cast. It makes the audience ponder everything there is to Joan, her setting, and the motivations of her allies and enemies.
May 26, 2015
Interesting in parts but the movie really never catches it's stride....flat and all over the place headache of a film.
½ May 17, 2015
Luc Besson really wasn't the right person to direct this movie. "The Messenger" is a prime example of a frustrating missed opportunity made all the more agonizing by glimpses of tremendous ambition. The casting of Milla Jovovich is particularly inspired. Her Joan is impassioned and fiery, a veritable blaze of pious insanity. I loved that Besson grasped the central place of piety and faith in Joan's life. It is a shame that these questions end up handled in a muddled, anachronistic fashion. The character of the Conscience, for instance, is a distracting incursion of post-Enlightenment thought into the film. Awkward joking also intrudes awkwardly into some well-filmed and structured battle sequences. Besson's visualization of Joan's visions, though fictionalized, are visually remarkable. The film takes on a revisionist insanity perspective towards Joan, which is a provocative position to take, but Besson's ambitions outstretch his abilities, and his attempt to juggle too many balls leads in a disjointed end result. A real shame, because the early exploration of Joan's faith and psyche, as well as Milla's fiery performance, are truly magnificent, but as Joan sinks further and further into madness and despair, so do Besson's directorial decisions.
May 6, 2015
History, action, and a female lead based on a historical figure, What more could you want? it doesn't have a happy ending!? What are you five? It's based on the historical events, so we all knew how it was going to end! It's everything you want, just like Braveheart except it doesn't have a male lead. And it's directed by an French man so you can't say cultural appropriation.
April 26, 2015
A near perfect adaptation based on the life of Joan of Arc. Truly mesmerizing!!
½ April 26, 2015
This is a retelling of the legendary heroine of France. Whether you are a believer that God spoke to Joan, or a non-believer who feels she was a delusional maid with a death wish, this sensitive yet brutal adaptation will satisfy both perspectives. Imaginatively directed, with a stellar cast I really enjoyed it and can't understand why it is rated so low.
March 7, 2015
Jovovich is badly miscast. Not a bad portrayal entirely, but not the portrait of this great woman that needs to be painted.
August 13, 2014
Despite the portrayel of Joan's visions as the disturbing hallucinations of an imbalanced mind, this is a pretty stirring film. Though everyone inexplicably talks and acts like they are in a 90s action flick, Milla Jovovich as the titular heroine, combined with the rousing scenes of battle, make this a very watchable historical epic.
April 10, 2014
Ok, I've read these Critics... that's why they are called CRITICS they like nothing and speak to the point of confusing people. The Messenger is truly one of the best films ever filmed.... it pulls you in and is visually stimulating and the actors are amazing and the lead actress Milla Jovovich should have won an OSCAR for her performance. And anyone who doesn't think so... obviously has poor test or like most CRICTICS they never sat through the film or had a stick up their rear while seeing. Rent this tonight and tell me I am wrong. It's amazing. If your intellectual abilities are above the movie Jackass.
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