The Book of Clarence (2024) – Movie Review

While “The Book of Clarence” may seem potentially controversial because it contains Jesus of Nazareth, outside of some of the conversations it could start, it is tame to the point of being boring.


Community Rating: 75% (1 votes)

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Movie Poster - The Book of Clarence

Plot Summary

In the age of Jesus of Nazareth, Clarence also exists. He leans towards being an atheist, despite word of Jesus’ miracles, for what does he care about faith when his reality is that he will be killed in 30 days unless he pays back a loan? So, being unable to become an apostle for protection, Clarence uses what he deems to be Jesus’ tricks to become a messiah himself.

However, he never expected to live up to expectations and eventually deal with the consequences.

Content Information

  • Dialog: Discriminatory Language (Promiscuity), Cursing (Occasional)
  • Violence: Blood, Weapon Violence (Type: Use of Spears and whips), Torture (Cruxification, whipping, and impalement)
  • Sexual Content: None
  • Miscellaneous: Drinking, Drug Use (Type: Smoking [Weed])

General Information

Director(s)

Jeymes Samuel

Screenplay By

Jeymes Samuel

Based On Work By

N/A

Date Released

January 12, 2024

How To Watch

In Theaters

Genre(s)

Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Romance, Religious, Historical

Film Length

2 Hour 16 Minutes

Content Rating

Rated PG-13

Noted Characters and Cast

Clarence

LaKeith Stanfield

Jesus

Nicholas Pinnock

Mary

Alfre Woodard

Varina

Anna Diop

Clarence’s Mom

Marianne Jean-Baptiste

Alternate Jesus

Benedict Cumberbatch

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Clarence (LaKeith Stanfield)

The younger of twin brothers, Clarence is the one stuck by his mom, sells weed, and is a small-time troublemaker with a dirt-covered heart of gold.

Jesus (Nicholas Pinnock)

Already producing miracles and knowing his days are numbered, Jesus mostly lives a lowkey life and doesn’t make his presence known unless he witnesses things too unjust to turn his head away from.

  • The actor is also known for their role in “For Life.”

Mary (Alfre Woodard)

Jesus’ mother, Mary, lives with her husband and endures Clarence’s questions and comments as if the family are con artists.

  • The actor is also known for their role in “Juanita.”

Varinia (Anna Diop)

Varinia is the sister of a man with notable power and a violent streak, but she is his opposite. She works in a hair salon and is one of the factors in Clarence trying to prove he matters in society.

Clarence’s Mom (Marianne Jean-Baptiste)

Sweet and supportive, alongside holding no ill will towards her eldest, Clarence’s mom isn’t his world but is one of his most prized relationships.

Collected Quote(s)

We need enlightenment, not punishment.
— Clarence

Anyone who follows blindly, is easy to overcome.
— Clarence

I don’t believe in change, I believe in growth.
— Varinia

Be the body, not the shadow.
— Clarence’s Mom

Review


Community Rating: 75% (1 votes)


Our Rating: Mixed (Divisive)

Highlights

The Complications of Faith

One of the things Clarence often pushes when speaking to a believer is knowledge over belief. In many ways, you get it. People are starving and abandoned, Romans roam the streets as oppressors, and between loan sharks and slavers, even those who look like you can act as oppressors. So, with this in mind, why believe in a God, never mind the idea of a Son of God?

Plus, as shown during Clarence’s rise, while people want to believe, there is a difference between faith via hope or belief and having something tangible. Word of Jesus raising the dead and healing those with ailments has become common, but not everyone has seen the miracles, and when it comes to Jesus, not many have seen him either.

Yet, here is Clarence, a charlatan, as we know, but he is performing miracles in public with his friends. He is the one releasing slaves, and he is this tangible person. You can touch him, beg from him, and even be personally charmed by him.

Together, it helps you understand why an early part of the bible warns of false idols, as it is likely rare they can be moved as Clarence was to honor their role.

The Idea Of History Repeating Itself Or Never Changing

One of the things “The Book of Clarence” presents is the idea of poverty, oppression, and abuse by the State against Black and Brown people, especially those with some form of influence has happened for generations. Now, does it outright try to create parallels between Jesus, or Clarence, and civil rights leaders? No.

However, as Clarence’s mother Adrian shouts out about how they take our children, as you watch Judas mirror the person LaKeith Stanfield played in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and other examples which can certainly feel subtle but potentially obvious, it becomes clear that someone could submit “The Book of Clarence” seeks part of the cycle Black and Brown people have endured to have pride, empowered leaders, and fight back against oppressive imperialist who may look down on them, and yet seemingly envy what they have.

On The Fence

The Comedy Is Subjective

While billed as a comedy, I would never say “The Book of Clarence” is outright funny. Certain moments are supposed to be comical, like Benedict Cumberbatch playing a version of Jesus or Alfred Woodard’s version of Mary not taking kindly to Clarence implying Jesus was a bastard she made up a story about.

But, like the film trying to present a palatable message or entry point to be deeper, when it comes to the comedy, it requires you to look for more than might be there.

There Will Be Times You Wish This Was Shorter

“The Book of Clarence” is broken down into multiple books, or chapters, three to be specific, and because the film isn’t notably funny or moving, there isn’t honestly much to hold onto. Yes, it can create conversation, as shown in the highlights, but from an entertainment perspective? There isn’t much here.

So, as you watch Clarence con people into giving up their money, him seek to redeem himself, partly to impress his crush, have back and forths with his brother, and then truly find himself pushed towards being the type of leader some thought he could never be? While the trailer makes the journey seem potentially interesting, maybe even the synopsis, I found it a struggle to wait for something special or someone special who could give the film what it needed.

Good If You Like

  • Stories set in biblical times but without focusing heavily on biblical personas

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The Book of Clarence (2024) – Review

Summary

“The Book of Clarence” seems like an interesting thought that excited someone, and they expanded it to the point that it became bloated and lost what was that initial spark. But, because something had to be turned in and they didn’t want to start over and lose the gems that got them excited in the first place, what was produced was the best that could be salvaged.

Overall
77%
77%
  • The Complications of Faith - 83%
    83%
  • The Idea Of History Repeating Itself Or Never Changing - 81%
    81%
  • The Comedy Is Subjective - 72%
    72%
  • There Will Be Times You Wish This Was Shorter - 70%
    70%

Highlight(s)

  • The Idea Of History Repeating Itself Or Never Changing
  • The Complications of Faith

Disputable

  • There Will Be Times You Wish This Was Shorter
  • The Comedy Is Subjective

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