Note: This is not "The Messenger" starring Milla Jovovich that came out the same year.
Runtime: 3 hr.
Genre: Television, Drama
Theatrical Release: May 16, 1999 Wide
Synopsis: A strong cast, impressive production values, and astute direction distinguish this generally successful dramatization of the tumultuous life of the...A strong cast, impressive production values, and astute direction distinguish this generally successful dramatization of the tumultuous life of the 15th-century French heroine whose military victories were eclipsed by her martyrdom. At the heart of the story is the conflict between the teenager's simple but fierce faith and the more complex political and theological issues that influence her downfall, a theme fleshed out through the portrayals of the young warrior's liege, the Dauphin (later King) Charles, and the Bishop Cauchon.
The 140-minute feature follows Joan D'Arc's odyssey from peasant obscurity to notoriety as the "Maid of Orleans," spiritual fulcrum for the beleaguered French forces struggling to halt English invaders. As played by Leelee Sobieski (Eyes Wide Shut), her evolution from naive farm girl to seasoned soldier is convincing, as is her gradual awakening to the underlying agendas of church and state. Most critically, Sobieski radiates the young girl's fervent spiritual devotion.
Framing Sobieski's focal performance are two equally fine turns from Neil Patrick Harris, who erases his legacy as TV's Doogie Howser, M.D. with a neatly shaded, steely Charles, and Peter O'Toole, who balances his signature reserve and present physical frailty to make Cauchon a moral compass for the story. Having opposed Joan as a threat to orthodoxy, the Bishop recognizes her purity too late; O'Toole turns this moment into a dreadful epiphany that resonates through the story's inevitable, fiery denouement. Fine supporting performances from Peter Strauss, Shirley MacLaine, and Maximillian Schell, plus evocative medieval locations in the Czech Republic, further buttress the story. French-Canadian director Christian Duguay handles the large-scale battle sequences with fluid blocking and smart camera work. --Sam Sutherl
Starring: Leelee Sobieski, Jacqueline Bisset, Powers Boothe, Neil Patrick Harris
Starring: Leelee Sobieski, Jacqueline Bisset, Powers Boothe, Neil Patrick Harris, Maury Chaykin, Olympia Dukakis, Jonathan Hyde, Robert Loggia, Shirley MacLaine, Peter O'Toole, Cliff Saunders, Maximilian Schell, Peter Strauss, Chad Willett, Ron White, Jaimz Woolvett, Ted Atherton, Chandra Engstrom, Jaroslav Fricek, Robert Haley, Mat Hoffman, Jirina Klinkova, Kristopher Lemche, Greg Linnington, Klára Issová, Matt Hoffman, Sebastian Gutierrez
Director: Christian Duguay