Grae's Rating:

1.0

It be a drag.

Who's In It: Wes Bentley, Charlie Cox, Dougray Scott, Rodrigo Santoro, Jordi Mollà, Geraldine Chaplin, Charles Dance, Derek Jacobi

The Basics: Researching the life of legendary Catholic priest Josemaría Escrivá (Cox), journalist Robert (Scott) discovers that his estranged, dying father Manolo (Bentley) was one of the priest's classmates in seminary. Manolo tells his son not to dig up the ghosts of the past, but he dictates his life story into a tape recorder, remembering how he and Josemaría were close friends as children before Josemaría's family lost their money. The two continued to drift apart as Josemaría gave his life to the church and to helping the downtrodden while Manolo pursued wealth. When the Spanish Civil War breaks out, Josemaría's life is in danger as priests are being murdered while Manolo goes underground with the leftists on behalf of the Fascists.

What's The Deal: Putting aside the many aesthetic problems with this overwrought, over-narrated, and overacted movie, the politics of There Be Dragons make very little sense, in that it wants to celebrate the founder of the extremely conservative and regressive Opus Dei movement while also pretending to be on the side of the Republic during the Spanish Civil War, conveniently overlooking the fact that the Catholic Church was quite willingly the handmaiden to the Fascist Franco regime that surfaced after the war. It's a film that starts out telling the story of a father and son, then it's about two friends, and eventually it ends up being a Sunday School–ready hagiography of Escrivá. We get Good Guys and Bad Guys, and with the exception of one big plot twist toward the end, everyone behaves exactly the same throughout, with very little explanation or motivation.

Rich Corinthian Leather: This is one of those films where they didn't want to shoot it in Spanish -- because heaven forbid American movie audiences would have to read subtitles -- so they make everyone speak in theek accents like Eugene Levy's old Ricardo Montalban impersonation on SCTV. It's the equivalent of setting a film in Paris and having everyone talk like Pepe Le Pew.

He Works Best With a Plastic Bag, Apparently: I was looking forward to seeing Wes Bentley on-screen again, since he mostly disappeared from view after his breakout performance in American Beauty more than ten years ago. Alas, he apparently spent the last decade at the Acting with Your Eyebrows Drama School.

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