Biography | Drama | History
Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac, Sami Samir, Manuel Cauchi, Ashraf Barhom, Michael Lonsdale, Rupert Evans, Homayoun Ershadi
Alexandra, 391 AD. A slave (Max Minghella) turns to the rising tide of Christianity in the hope of pursuing freedom while falling in love with his mistress, the famous philosophy and mathematics professor Hypatia of Alexandria (Rachel Weisz).
Since I've never heard of Hypatia of Alexandria - it's probably because I never cared much about ancient philosophers and mathematicians - and I love Rachel Weisz, I decided to watch Alejandro Amenábar's "Agora" expecting nothing short of a great film considering his other works. Well, I was a bit disappointed, but overall it still is a pretty good film.
The biggest flaw is the plot. It is incoherent, unfocused - it tries to follow the local politics, and Hypatia's personal and "professional" life at the same time doing not such a good job in either - and it eventually becomes too complicated to be explained, and the film's length isn't enough to cover it. Also, although it takes quite some time to get moving, the most interesting and strong part is the first act because in the second act the characters just get lost.
However, I believe the filmmakers' intention wasn't to simply tell the story of Hypatia but to show the religious struggles of the Roman Empire and its "connection" to science, and as such "Agora" does a fairly good job. Not only Amenábar delivers the conflict between Christians, Jews and Pagans, but he also shows the conflict between human intellect and faith in a quite effective way and how religion has (and always will) influenced the progress of science.
The aesthetic is another strong aspect of the film. From the sets to costumes to photography, everything is impressive and gives you the feeling of having travelled back in time.
And then there's the acting, the reason why everyone should watch this. Rachel Weisz is brilliant as Hypatia and wonderfully captures the struggles of a woman who is trying to bring some sense to the dark world she lives in. Fortunately, both for us and her, she is surrounded by equally great actors, especially Max Minghella and Oscar Isaac, who all give strong performances.