Movie Review: The Da Vinci Code

By Amy Lamare, May 20, 2006

As a huge fan of the Dan Brown bestseller, I have to admit I’ve been excited since I heard Ron Howard (RHOWA) would helm the film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code (DVINC). Much speculation went on between my friends and family and I. We cast the movie, we figured out how to trim the densely crammed novel down to movie length, we waited with baited breath to see if the final project would live up to our expectations.

It did.

Why?

Because its fun. Because it’s fascinating. Because all the events hypothesized about in the book and in the film and in countless television specials may or may not be true. Because its inspired people all over the world to think and to question whether the history we were taught is true. It is that feeling of possibility that has made The Da Vinci Code a worldwide phenomenon.

So ask yourself: who is speaking out against the film? Religious leaders? Conservative Catholic and Christian Groups? Societies for the prevention of cruelty to Albinos? Yes, yes, and yes again. And also jaded film critics who made the trip to the South of France to see it expecting I don’t know what…The Bourne Supremacy, perhaps?

They have called this film boring and lacking in tension. It’s not a car chase flick people, it’s a film about a complex academic study of ancient symbolism and how it relates to ancient Pagan and Christian rituals. Not much room for a bunch of Minis screeching through the streets of Rome. Not much room for a middle aged man to perform outrageous stunts as a secret agent. And not a sinking cruise ship to be found. Thank God. Its about time Hollywood brought intelligent summer fare for adult audiences.

Tom Hanks (THANK) stars as Robert Langdon, a Harvard professor of symbology who is drawn into the murder of the curator of the Louvre. The man scrawled some symbols and phrases around and on his own body as he was dying. His granddaughter Sophie Neveu, played by Audrey Tautou (ATAUT), is a symbologist with the French government. Together she and Hanks work to unravel the mystery her grandfather left behind. A mystery that could rock the very foundations upon which the Catholic Church was formed.

It appears that her grandfather was a part of the Priory of Scion, an ancient order tasked with protecting the secret of the Holy Grail. Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman do a good job condensing the material from the novel without making a viewer who has read the novel point and shout “they left that out!” With all the information Dan Brown crammed into The Da Vinci Code, this was no easy task.

Howard beautifully photographs Paris and makes the City of Lights an integral character in the film. Ian McKellan (IMCKE) steals every scene he is in as Sir Leigh Teabing, the academic on a quest for the Holy Grail. Tautou is luminous as a woman at odds with her past and disbelieving in the mythology of the Grail, the mystery that can unravel her past. Hanks is as Hanks always is, good at what he does if not a little bit flat as the Harvard Professor renowned the world over for his expertise in pagan and religious symbology. Jean Reno (JRENO) is pitch perfect as the French FBI agent. Paul Bettany (PBETT) plays the tortured, masochistic, deeply religious albino assassin with just the right amount of insanity in his eyes. Overall, the cast is an excellent supporting player to the central mystery of the Holy Grail and The Da Vinci Code.

The Da Vinci Code is not Indiana Jones. It just doesn’t have that kind of action in it, nor should it. It is a quieter, more intellectual journey through a fascinating world of possibilities. What if Jesus really was married to Mary Magdalene? What if there are surviving members of Christ’s bloodline living in the world today? Some Catholics call it blasphemy. I call it intriguing. And that is exactly what Ron Howard’s Da Vinci Code is. Intriguing. Fascinating. Intellectual. Nothing can be proved and so everything is possible.

Because what is faith if not the ability to believe in something in which there is no concrete proof?

Finally, what do all these religious types have their panties in a bunch about anyway? Be happy there IS faith. Faith of any kind is rare enough these days.
This work is the property of HSX.com/Hollywood Stock Exchange and Amy Lamare. It is not to be reused, reprinted or stolen under any conditions.

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