Three Christs Review

What a time to be Peter Dinklage. Toiling away so desperately for that post-Game of Thrones high has not paid all too many dividends. His strongest effort being the criminally underrated I Think We’re Alone Now proves he does have the calibre and variety of performance needed to break on through to the other side. But projects like Rememory and Three Christs surely can’t help his trajectory. His beard and hipster hair, the oddly-fitted glasses, and the comparisons in appearance to fellow castmate Walton Goggins don’t just stifle Dinklage’s talents but make Three Christs an unnaturally odd representation of a doctor treating paranoid schizophrenics who believe they are the Son of God.  

They are not related to God, though. That much is rather obvious, and it is up to Dr. Alan Stone (Richard Gere) to not just convince them they are not, but to break new ground in treatments for those that suffer from schizophrenia. Gere feels off-balance, his speech into a tin can and microphone in the dimly lit room where it all fell apart is reminiscent of Milk, where the character at the heart of all these intrepid moments recounts his life throughout it. Where Sean Penn had interest and power on his side, Gere has nothing. He gives a clumsy and uninteresting detail of his life treating patients of a mental ward. Dinklage’s introduction is a remarkable one that at least shows he can scream and whine, but he does little else. It is the sudden, jarring decisions made by Jon Avnet’s direction that loosen the ability of these actors. 

Pacing appears to be the worst issue of all. Within six minutes we have already been introduced to Christ, popped in for an iconographic showing of a Lenny Bruce poster, seen Gere have sex, be stabbed with a tin can lid, have a breakdown in his room, and move into his new office. What Three Christs lacks so often is an ability to confirm its thought process and then subsequently act upon it with common sense. It dwindles rather rapidly, introducing a flurry of characters and scenarios in the early moments, hoping that they stick for good. They do not. Despite the best efforts of Goggins, Bradley Whitford and Dinklage, no Christ is a memorable one here. Not even Gere is all that good, neither in performing nor in displaying the narrative points that wish to touch upon the inevitable, forward-thinking medical innovations.  

But its real message is the progress society has made in treating those with mental inflictions. Three Christs just happens to have a topic at hand of particular interest. Awakenings did it far better, although that was nothing to do with mental health, and more focused on physical ailments. The context of the period and the desire to show that medical treatment has improved, though, remains much the same for both of these features. Christ is a generous figure, but Three Christs, well, there is no way of indicating any form of brevity or actual dramatics with performances that linger on self-indulgent tones, with the express wish being that the role embodies the actor, rather than the actor displaying the tone of the film. They instead try to develop their material as viable actors for later projects, a footnote for their CVs, rather than anything fans of their work will ever wish to return to.  

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