The Book of Clarence | Review by: Stefano Bove

 The Book of Clarence is a much needed return to the biblical epics that have been missing in entertainment for far too long. Director Jaymes Samuel (better known as The Bullits) takes us back to 33 AD, Jerusalem to tell the story of Clarence. 

Clarence (Lakeith Stanfield) is a street hustler who is well known in the town for his miss-deeds, contrary to his lifestyle, he is also the brother of  an apostle of Jesus, Thomas (laKeith Stanfield) The film begins with Clarence and his friend Elijah (RJ Cyler) in the middle of a horse and carriage race against Mary Magdalene. Upon losing the race, losing the horses and damaging the carriage, we discover that it was all loaned to him from the village gangster which immediately puts him at a loss as the story begins.  In a need to recoup his loosing's or face death in 30 days for non-payment, Clarence begins devising plans in order to save his life. One of which includes trying to get his brother into making him an apostle. After this failed attempt to get close to the messiah, Clarence has a light-bulb moment and decides he will begin preaching that he is in fact a messiah himself. These consistently bad decisions offer Clarence the opportunity to learn from his mistakes in order to better himself and better the people of Jerusalem and finally do something for others. Everyone around Clarence is trying to offer their advice but it is up to Clarence to get past his selfish mentality and understand that not everyone is out to get him. All of these interactions help shape Clarence's character and deliver a wonderful character arc. 

Lakeith Stansfield is such a charismatic actor and puts an exciting amount of energy to the character of Clarence. He helps make his terrible choices believable as he jumps from one bad idea to the next. The large ensemble cast including RJ Cyler, James McAvoy, Omar Sy, Caleb McLaughlin, Anna Diop and so many more, all work so well together to craft this story in their own way. The film succeeds in it's dialogue and character interaction and make for a very easy and enjoyable watch.  Many of the laughs come from the leading duo of Stansfield and Cyler. Many of Clarence's bright ideas result in so many great lines from Elijah.

As the story progresses, the tone does begin to shift to a more serious and dramatic story. This does come off a bit confusing as its script continues to deliver laughs. The film is broken up into three chapters so it is understandable that this is to to indicate a new direction for the film and evolution of the characters. 

If you are a fan of movies such as The Holy Grail or Life of Brian, this film is sure to bring on the biblical laughs that have been missing from the theatrical experience for many years.


Review by: Stefano Bove

#review #toronto #thebookofclarence 

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