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Richard Gere Gets A Juicy Role To Dive Into With “Three Christs”

Whenever you find out that a movie hitting theaters is one that played film festivals almost three years ago, it’s hard not to go in expecting a bust. After all, if the flick was so good, why didn’t it come out in 2017, or even 2018? Why the delay? Well, for whatever reason, Three Christs is only getting released this week, after a 2017 debut at the Toronto International Film Festival. In an interesting twist, however, this is a well acted and compelling drama. Sure, it’s a modest independent work, but with a top tier cast and an intriguing experiment at its core, it makes very little sense that the delay has been so long.

The film is a drama, centered on a very unique medical experiment in the late 1950s. Specifically, things begin in 1959 at the Ypsilanti State Hospital in Michigan. There, Dr. Alan Stone (Gere) arrives, soon to experience that one of the patients, Joseph (Peter Dinklage), believes that he’s Jesus Christ. Soon, he finds two other paranoid schizophrenics in the state who also believe that they’re Jesus, in Leon (Walton Goggins) and Clyde (Bradley Whitford). Dr. Stone is struck by this and brings the other two men to the Ypsilanti State Hospital in order to start up a revolutionary treatment that substitutes electroshock, restraints, and tranquilizers, for therapy. Essentially, he just puts them in a room together in order to confront their shared delusions. Of course, things don’t go quite as planned, and the experiment is quickly threatened to be shut down by hospital administrators, but all four men in that room are forever changed by the experience. Jon Avnet directs and co-writes with Eric Nazarian, while Denis Lenoir handles the cinematography. Jeff Russo composes the score. Supporting players include Jane Alexander, Charlotte Hope, Julianna Margulies, Kevin Pollak, Stephen Root, and more.

Richard Gere anchors the flick with a vintage performance, though the entire cast is very strong. Everyone is doing their parts with aplomb, it’s just that Gere is above and beyond, giving depth to a dedicated man. Still, Peter Dinklage, Walton Goggins, and Bradley Whitford are top notch too, while Kevin Pollak is very solid in a somewhat villainous role. The acting really does set this one apart, since the story itself never fully grabs you. Without this cast, it’s not unreasonable to assume that the movie would failed otherwise. You’re really in it just to watch their interactions, both dramatic and comedic.

Three Christs has its share of flaws, mainly in a prolonged running time and a predilection to hammer a point home when it could be more gently made, but it has a pure heart. The treatment of mental illness never appears mean spirited or overly simplified, and in fact does try to get at the heart and soul of troubled individuals. Moreover, it does also ask why someone dedicates their life to helping those that medical science previously labeled as beyond help. In that sense, the film finds a nice avenue to work with. This isn’t awards worthy cinema, but it’s a little movie that has something to say.

Starting tomorrow, audiences can begin to check out Three Christs, a well acted indie that harkens back to a past generation of cinema. While it’s unlikely to blow you away, anyone who enjoys watching actors stretch their muscles will appreciate what’s going on here. Especially if you’ve been waiting for another Richard Gere role worth getting excited about, this is something to latch on to. It’s hitting cinemas and digital for On Demand purchase on January 10th, so the wait is finally over, too…

Be sure to check out Three Christs, in theaters and On Demand this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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