Review: ‘Anazapta’

A proficient British cast gives it the old college try in "Anazapta," a down-in-the mud drama of religious superstition set during the Black Death. Long-on-the-shelf pic lacks sufficient scope and visual breadth to draw many ducats after its limited release May 7; vid earnings look rosier.

A proficient British cast gives it the old college try in “Anazapta,” a down-in-the mud drama of religious superstition set during the Black Death. Some fine costume design does battle with ultra-realism (blood, boils, bad teeth) and an inchoate script by helmer Alberto Sciamma (“Killer Tongue”) to moderately entertaining results. But long-on-the-shelf pic lacks sufficient scope and visual breadth to draw many ducats after its limited release May 7; vid earnings look rosier.

As soldiers return to their village from the wars in 1348, Lady Matilda Mellerby (Lena Headey, spirited) learns her hubby (Jon Finch) is held prisoner in Gaul. His nephew, Nicholas (Jason Flemyng), intends to exchange their own prisoner, the saintly Jacques de St. Amant (David La Haye), as well as ransom him to pay off the greedy local archbishop (Ian McNeice). When the Black Death strikes the village, paranoia sets in, and St. Amant’s secret past is exposed. Dialogue swings between archaic and modern colloquial, and pic shows an almost surreal lack of concern for explanation and plotting. Dan Jones’ score is plentiful but unmemorable; Welsh locations are serviceable. “Anazapta” is, apparently, a “charm against illness.”

Anazapta

U.K.

Production

A Guerilla Films release of a the Spice Factory, Great British Films production, in association with CFI, Enterprise Films. Produced by Jason Piette, Michael Lionello Cowan, David Ball. Executive producers, David Rogers, Alex Marshall. Directed by Alberto Sciamma. Screenplay, Sciamma, Harriet Sand.

Crew

Camera (Fujicolor), Alastair Meux; editor, George Akers; music, Dan Jones; production designer, Keith Maxwell; costume designer, Ffion Elinor. Reviewed at Mr. Young's preview theater, London, March 23, 2004. Running time: 113 MIN.

With

Lena Headey, David La Haye, Jason Flemyng, Ian McNeice, Jon Finch, Christopher Fairbank, Anthony O'Donnell, Jeff Nuttall, Ralph Riach, Stevan Rimkus, Hayley Carmichael.
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