By Mandi Bierly
Updated December 01, 2006 at 08:30 PM EST
The Nativity Story: Jaimie Trueblood

Just reading the reviews for The Nativity Story (starring Keisha Castle-Hughes, pictured) makes me feel guilty. Which is saying something, considering I’m sitting here thinking that I have no real interest in watching a Jesus movie unless he’s old enough to ogle. But back to the reviews… “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,” writes The South Florida Sun-Sentinel‘s Phoebe Flowers. “It has been three weeks since I saw The Nativity Story, and I still think it is so far from divine as to in fact be abominably bad.”

While this seems to be the consensus (Las Vegas Weekly‘s Josh Bell calls it “an effective pitch for Christianity as the dullest religion ever,” while Slant Magazine’s Ed Gonzalez refers to it as “the most boring story ever told”), a few critics are singing director Catherine Hardwicke’s praises. The Hollywood Reporter‘s Kirk Honeycutt testifies: “Hollywood is in a born-again mode with its rediscovery that Biblical epics can bring manna at the boxoffice. In New Line Cinema’s The Nativity Story we have the first smart, artistically and spiritually satisfying film to emerge from this trend. The familiar story… unfolds in a scrupulously accurate historical adventure story that depicts the world of Jesus’ birth with an exciting you-are-there verisimilitude.”

His use of “exciting you-are-there verisimilitude” strikes me as somewhat odd, but nothing is quite as deliciously offbeat as Village Voice critic Scott Foundas’ take: “Hardwicke, who began her career as a production designer, has a wonderful eye for detail — possibly too wonderful, for there are so many shots of Nazareth villagers making artisanal cheeses that the movie may become uncomfortable for the lactose intolerant.” Good to know.

addCredit(“The Nativity Story: Jaimie Trueblood”)