Gautaman Bhaskaran
an indian journalist
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Cannes Film Festival 2006: The Da Vinci Code, a review

Ron Howard’s “The Da Vinci Code”, which opened the 59th edition of the Cannes Film Festival on May 17 2006, completely belied expectations. At the end of the two-hour-thirty-two-minute screening, I felt that Howard should have never made this movie, should have never made a thriller. Adapted from Dan Brown’s bestseller of the same name, “The Da Vinci Code” proved to be a terrible disappointment.

To begin with, the movie was hardly thrilling, except for a couple of scenes when an albino monk of the Opus Dei, Silas, (played by Paul Bettany) makes a surprise attack, once on Tom Hanks and the second time on Audrey Tautou.

Robert Langdon (Hanks), Harvard professor and symbologist, is urgently summoned one night to the Louvre by the police when he is on a lecture tour to Paris. The museum’s curator’s has been murdered, and lies sprawled in one of the galleries surrounded by bizarre symbols. His granddaughter, police cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Tautou), joins Langdon in what is the beginning of an adventure that takes them through Paris to London.

Both Hanks and Tautou seem wooden, and there is just no chemistry between the two. Did Howard want Hanks this way, and in a thriller?

It is only when Ian Mckellen comes on the scene after an hour as Sir Leigh Teabing, a friend of Hanks, that the films picks up, well, somewhat.

Most parts of “The Da Vinci Code” appear like a classroom lecture on symbols, codes, secret cults and religious history. Boringly verbose, the movie is certainly no patch on Brown’s fiction, and Howard fails to develop a controversial idea – that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and sired a child and whose descendants are still living – into a an absorbing motion picture. In fact, some of the scenes are so stodgy that even clever camera movements cannot provide any excitement on the screen.

Howard, however, goes beyond the conclusion of the novel, and this could be a point of interest for all those millions of men and women who have read it and who had hoped to find some delight in Howard’s creation. Months of controversy – first the legal case that was filed against Brown for plagiarism, and eventually dismissed, and then the Christian community’s displeasure with the idea of Christ siring a daughter – surrounding the celluloid work merely served to heighten the curiosity about the film.

But, well, one viewing of the movie proved that Howard’s “The Da Vinci Code” was a lot of hype, and very little substance

(Posted on this website on May 18 2006)