Wednesday, November 17, 1999
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Volume 65, Issue 62

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The Messengeraccurate, but story lacks the needed punch

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc

Starring: Milla Jovovich, John Malkovich, Dustin Hoffman
Running Time: 141
Rated: R

Grade: C +

By Rattaya Nimibutr
Daily Cougar Staff 

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc follows the life of a young peasant girl who led France to victory over the English. Captured by her enemies and declared a witch, she was burned at the stake before her 20th birthday.

As a teenage girl, she claimed God came to her and told her to defeat the English and liberate France. What makes this depiction different from others is that director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) challenges the validity of whether or not Joan of Arc was actually visited by God.

Jack English/Columbia Pictures

Rejuvenated by their inspirational -- if unexpected -- new leader, French troops rally behind Joan of Arc (Milla Jovovich)  as she leads them into the crucial battle of Orleans in the new film The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc.

Joan of Arc is often portrayed as a hero in most stories, leading a memorable victory against England or being martyred because she burned at the stake for witchcraft. In The Messenger she is seen as the hero, and the film explores her obsession with the voices in her head more than the events that occurred in history.

The film features typical battle scenes with blood and gore. These parts are well thought out, and this is what makes the film good. The storyline is depicted rather well, and much of the film is extremely clever.

On the other hand, John Malkovich (Being John Malkovich) doesn't fit the role of King Charles VII, the man who jeopardizes the stability of Joan of Arc. His role isn't exactly that of a grand leader, but errs more on the childish side. Malkovich's portrayal of someone ignorant and greedy is not at all convincing.

Jovovich offers a different style from her usual performances. As Joan, Jovovich is able to pull off her obsession with God and her confrontation with The Conscience (Dustin Hoffman) brilliantly.

These, however, are the only times Jovovich seems to excel. Her performance is good, but only when she commands the spotlight on screen.

The Messenger is a good film when it comes to portraying Joan of Arc, and is directed well by Besson. There is, though, something missing that keeps it from being an exceptional production on the whole.

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