Mary, Mother Of Jesus

NBC, Nov. 14

Praise be: a religious drama that is devout without reeking of sanctimony. Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her son Bobby Shriver are the executive producers of this inspirational film, which celebrates Mary's faith and wisdom. While the teleplay admittedly takes dramatic license, it is true to the Gospels. The dialogue is refreshingly unstilted, and the spare, understated performances of newcomer Melinda Kinnaman as the young Mary, Pernilla August (The Phantom Menace) as the mature Mary, and Christian Bale (Velvet Goldmine) as Jesus are credible and moving. One cranky question: Why do American filmmakers always insist that biblical figures spoke with British accents?

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