A cross between Troy, TV’s Rome and Planet of the Apes, Spanish director Amenábar’s epic but po-faced tale of shifting religious persecutions is very much a movie of two halves. The first focus is on the thinking Roman’s cheesecake Hypatia, her young acolytes (most of whom are in love with her which leads to one of the worst rebuff gifts ever) and the Christian uprising, the second half showcases her boys’ rise to power and the sacrifices she is forced to make.
Filled with literal and metaphysical stone throwing between the religions (which at times threatens to descend into Pythonesque or Chris Morris territory), Agora is saddled with a muddy narrative and too many blokes who look alike. Whilst there’s a nice explanation of modern astronomy using a petanque pit and balls, the film gets bogged down in interpretations of faith, which means the unusually long dialogue-free stretches are actually something of a blessing, despite the intrusion of an over-the-top wail-tastic soundtrack.
And while you can see what attracted the luminous and charismatic Weisz to the role, she is at times marginalised in this supposedly feminist tale and naturally ends up naked and in less than rude health by the end.