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Sermon of spiritual awakening and sacrifice

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MARY MAGDALENE (12A)

A woman’s most cherished asset, her reputation, is at the mercy of jealous, controlling men in director Garth Davis’s revisionist religious drama.

Co-written by Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett, Mary Magdalene quietly trades in solemnity, echoing the current battle for parity waged by the Me Too and Time’s Up movements through the eyes of a misunderstood heroine at odds with the suffocating conventions of her time.

“I’m not sure that what happens to a woman is of much account here,” laments Mary, who is portrayed as a much-abused feminist trailblazer rather than the repentant prostitute depicted in western art and literature.

As a handsomely crafted sermon about spiritual awakening and sacrifice, the film preaches to the art house masses with aplomb. Awomen. Unfortunately, we observe the title character from such a safe, reverential distance, it’s hard to connect with her on an emotional level.

PETER RABBIT (PG)

The subterranean thumping you can hear throughout Will Gluck’s family-friendly adventure isn’t Beatrix Potter’s eponymous floppy-eared creation (voiced by James Corden) and his anthropomorphic clan as they bound excitedly around their warren.

Peter Rabbit buries the sweet, simple charm of Potter’s beautifully illustrated books, which were first published at the turn of the 20th century, and unearths a brash and brazen battle between country and city, laden with pop culture references including a litter of nods to the Oscar-winning 1995 film Babe. Young audiences won’t care about the disparity between Potter’s elegant source material and the film’s emotionally manipulative script. To them, what matters is that the four-legged protagonists are undeniably cute and impeccably realised with state-of-the-art computer effects that seamlessly meld technical wizardry and live action.