Monday 22 January 2024

REVIEW: The Book of Clarence (2024 Film) Starring LaKeith Stanfield

Review by Jon Donnis
"The Book of Clarence," written and directed by Jeymes Samuel, takes a bold leap into the realm of biblical comedy with a unique premise centered around a struggling man named Clarence in A.D. 33 Jerusalem. While the film showcases moments of humor, a talented ensemble cast, and an intriguing blend of genres, it struggles to find a cohesive identity, falling short of the satirical brilliance seen in classics like "The Life of Brian."

The film unfolds in three distinct "Books," each reminiscent of old-Hollywood style title-lettering, adding a touch of nostalgia to the storytelling. LaKeith Stanfield leads the cast with a dual role as Clarence and his cynical twin brother Thomas, delivering decent performances throughout the film. The ensemble cast, including Omar Sy as Barabbas, Anna Diop as Varinia, RJ Cyler as Elijah, and others, adds depth to the characters and contributes to the film's comedic moments.

The plot, although filled with comedic potential, stumbles at times due to its attempt to blend elements of satire, historical fiction, and comedy. The film's satirical take on a biblical narrative in a woke Hollywood setting, while ambitious, doesn't reach the heights of the classic, "The Life of Brian." The decision to set the story in the Middle East 2000 years ago with an all-black cast raises eyebrows, and the film occasionally loses its satirical edge, missing opportunities to deliver biting commentary.

The humour in "The Book of Clarence" is a mixed bag, landing roughly half of the time. The film's comedic moments, when successful, provide genuine laughs and contribute to the overall enjoyment. The soundtrack enhances the viewing experience, featuring great music that complements the film's tone.

However, the film's shortcomings become apparent in its slow pacing, making the already lengthy 2 hours and 10 minutes feel even more laborious. It appears as though the writers struggled to define the film's genre, vacillating between comedy, satire, and historical fiction. This lack of clarity hampers the overall impact of the narrative.

While "The Book of Clarence" boasts moments of entertainment, the woke Hollywood approach and the film's identity crisis contribute to its downfall. The decision by the producers to distance themselves from the project suggests a lack of confidence in their film, for example I have not seen this advertised anywhere. Despite its shortcomings, the film earns a generous 6 out of 10 for its commendable performances, occasional humor, and intriguing premise. However, it's unlikely to secure a lasting place in cinematic history, destined to quietly fade away.

Out in cinemas now (if you can find it).

Or go watch Monty Python's Life of Brian