Starring William Dafoe and Paul Bettany
Directed by Paul McGuigan
Released in 2003
Set in 14th century England, The Reckoning focuses on Nicholas, a young priest who has broken his vow of chastity and in turn becomes a fugitive, escaping from his fellow monks and their judgment. Posing as an actor in a traveling acting troupe, Nicholas, along with the actors, discovers that a young woman convicted of killing a boy is actually innocent and the troupe sets out to prove her innocence by incorporating the crime into their plays.
The film was based on Barry Unsworth’s novel, Morality Play.
New York Times Review – “…the movie, like its hero (a disgraced priest played by Mr. Bettany with stagy anguish), trudges along the well-trod path of high-minded, schematic storytelling. The medieval landscape, as shot by the cinematographer Peter Sova, retains its harsh, authentic look. But ”The Reckoning,” like a great many medieval melodramas before it, is a talky, sententious affair.”
BBC Review – “Although raising intriguing questions about the moral obligation dramatists have to throw a spotlight on taboo subjects, The Reckoning offers simplistic solutions. As the finale approaches it becomes more formulaic, culminating with Nicholas outlining his (frankly, flimsy) theory for the townsfolk in a scene that could’ve been lifted from an Agatha Christie mini-series.”
Combustible Celluloid – “…the movie instead raises larger questions. Who decides what’s good or bad and the degrees thereof? Sure, The Reckoning could have played more with these many fascinating themes, but just the fact of it planting those seeds makes it a challenging and thought-provoking film and a welcome relief to a dry season.”