When you make a film which is based on a book written more than 100 years ago there is bound to be some confusion translating the plot for a modern audience.
Throw in concepts of region, anarchy and dictatorship and you have a recipe for some mind boggling narrative.
This is exactly what The Man Who Was Thursday offers up.
Adapted from G. K. Chesterton’s book of the same title, the film is fast-paced and never really gives its viewer the chance to settle into it , as debutant director Balazs Juszt uses fast cuts and some very questionable storytelling to keep audiences on their toes.
The Man Who Was Thursday follows Father Smith (Francois Arnaud), a young priest suffering a crisis of faith which is not helped by the temptation of a mysterious woman who not only has committed every sin under the sun, but seems to enjoy being a sinner, despite his best efforts Smith succumbs to her, only to be betrayed – leading to a violent outburst in an effort to save himself.
It is this lose of faith which leads Smith to Vatican City where he meets an old friend Charlie (Jordi Molla), who sees the opportunity of his arrival as a chance for reform to stop a group plotting to kill the Pope and find its ring leader ‘Sunday’.
This is where the story starts to stray a bit, as Smith’s mind jumps from 1942 and a group trying to kill Mussolini, while at the same time back in the present where he finds himself part of a resistance group trying to kill God.
It is this section of the film where Balazs gets himself in a bit of a muddle, with the constant jumping of time zones and people dying in the blink of an eye, apart from Smith – and to some extent Charlie – there is no character development what so ever you are just expected to accept these people for who they are.
There are echoes of The Da Vinci Code in The Man Who Was Thursday with the idea of trying to unravel religion. However, it is not until the final scene that everything falls into place and the penny finally drops.
The constant push and pull from Saturday (Ana Ularu) and Charlie, represents the personal struggle of Smith, and with Charlie walking the thin line between hero and villain, it lets on he knows more than he is giving away.
The Man Who Was Thursday may be quite challenging viewing, which at times has you question why you are still watching, but the end reveal makes the journey all worthwhile.
Dir: Balazs Juszt
Scr: Balazs Juszt
Cast: Francois Arnaud, Jordi Molla, Ana Ularu
Prd: Guy Moshe, Matthew G. Zamias
Run time: 95 mins