Cast: Richard Gere, Julianna Margulies, Peter Dinklage, Walton Goggins
Director: Jon Avent
For a movie that has notable and recognizable actors in it, Three Christs is such a strange movie from start to finish. It’s the type of movie that thrives as an on-demand release in January, and as a result this experimental and unique movie ends up accomplishing some of what it sets out to do. As a depiction of mental illness and the treatments that were used in a crueler time, Three Christs spends 109 minutes examining the ethics and psyche of psychology while not exactly providing a clear direction of what it’s trying to say.
The film follows Dr. Alan Stone (Gere), a psychiatrist who studies people with severe mental conditions such as paranoid schizophrenia. When he comes across three patients that each believe they are Jesus Christ, he separates them from the rest of the hospital and observes their behavior in a neutral environment without the threat of electroshock therapy. Through his groundbreaking non-combative treatment, the three men take a deep dive into their lives and truly begin to examine how they got into this situation and why they are the way they are. Looking at this movie from the perspective of its subject matter, Three Christs gives the audience true insight into how we used to treat people with mental ailments. It was sickening and worst and manipulative at best, and as we see through Dr. Stone’s work, even though his intentions seem to be pure, his methods don’t necessarily align with the best interests of his patients. We’ve made so much progress in the field, but obviously this progress wasn’t made overnight and the egos of those involved seemed to be more important than the actual results of their experiments. With that all in mind, this movie could’ve used a clearer direction and path to understand exactly what it was trying to prove. While the psychiatry was the main point of the movie, there are multiple subplots and details that are added for seemingly no reason. Just when you think something will matter, the movie jerks away and refocuses itself on a different detail. It’s ironic that a movie about schizophrenia has a very disorderly and schizophrenic feel to it. It’s almost as if the director thought any semblance of normalcy would make the audience too comfortable and used this method to keep viewers on their toes, but it just seems unnecessary. We’ve seen movies that combine the dramatic elements of Three Christs that also frame them in a dark, comedic sense, and even though Three Christs doesn’t do them in a particularly spectacular way, it’s still captivating and entertaining enough to satisfy the needs of traditional genre audiences. It definitely helps to have familiar faces, with Dinklage and Goggins truly standing out in ensemble roles, so that level of comfort may help offset the oddities that frequently appear in this movie. Considering these events are based loosely off real events and people, we can gather that it’s not a huge leap in logic to think that the characters and scenarios are authentic, which may be enough to keep everyone grounded when they watch.
Overall, Three Christs fits the criteria of a mediocre streaming movie to a t. Experimental enough to warrant merit, yet clustered and messy enough to have issues, Three Christs isn’t something I would anticipate most audiences would actively seek out, but those who do should be satisfied with what they find. The movie itself is kind of a mystery in terms of what it’s trying to be, but ultimately it’s uncertainty provides a level of unique charm not often found in similar movies.
Overall Score: 5/10