Satire comes in all different forms and can be expressed in just about any genre or style of storytelling one could think of. Some of the boldest — let alone most risqué — examples of the craft aim to poke fun at, or merely make a statement about, a certain cultural system or belief and how it affected a particular time in history. For instance, THE BOOK OF CLARENCE depicts the time when Jesus Christ walked the Earth through a darkly comic lens.
To be clear, the Son of Man is not the central focus of this upcoming historical dramedy, but his influence as a messianic figure is very important to the story. This film almost feels like the plot of 1979’s LIFE OF BRIAN — a historical satire from groundbreaking British comedy troupe Monty Python following an ordinary man mistaken for the messiah — but in reverse. See why, and learn more about the most essential things there are to know about THE BOOK OF CLARENCE, in our guide below.
A Satire Of Biblical Proportions
A new book is about to be added to the Bible which follows a man named Clarence — a man who, despite what he possesses in intelligence, lacks greatly in wealth. As he begins to grow increasingly desperate for a solution to support himself and his impoverished family, he comes across a man who is said by some to, potentially, be the Son of God due to his wise prophesying and mysterious acts of great power. The way this man, known as Jesus of Nazareth, seems to have captivated most of the people of Jerusalem gives Clarence an idea.
In order to be as powerful as someone like Jesus, all Clarence has to do is be someone like Jesus, by playing into the interests and beliefs of the public and faking miraculous acts such as curing the blind, with help from his friends and confidantes. Unfortunately, Clarence’s attempts to make a name for himself and earn the life he believes he deserves ends up putting his life in danger. Also featuring new original music from artists like Jay-Z, ‘Lil Wayne and Kid Cudi, THE BOOK OF CLARENCE is a refreshing take on the Hollywood biblical epic unlike anything to come before.
LaKeith Stanfield Leads
Leading the BOOK OF CLARENCE cast in the title role is Academy Award® nominee LaKeith Stanfield — known for leading roles in JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH and SORRY TO BOTHER YOU and equally memorable supporting roles in GET OUT and KNIVES OUT, for instance. The “Atlanta” star is joined by ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL actor RJ Cyler as Clarence’s friend, Elijah, as well as Stanfield’s SELMA co-star, David Oyelowo, as John the Baptist and as Pontius Pilate, we have James McAvoy in what is his first biblical drama, but his latest of many period pieces after ATONEMENT and several more.
“Stranger Things” star Caleb McLaughlin also appears as Zeke, along with Michael Ward from EMPIRE OF LIGHT as Judas. Mother Mary is played by Academy Award nominee Alfre Woodard, Teyana Taylor — following her breakthrough performance in A THOUSAND AND ONE — stars as Mary Magdalene and Anna Diop from US and “Titans” plays Varinia. MCU star Benedict Cumberbatch also has a role and Barabbas — a murderer pardoned by Pontius Pilate out of the public favoring Jesus’ condemnation — is played by French actor Omar Sy.
Jeymes Samuel Directs
THE BOOK OF CLARENCE is the brainchild of Jeymes Samuel. The biblical epic marks the third feature-length effort for the English filmmaker as a writer, director, and producer, following his 51-minute 2013 western, THEY DIE BY DAWN, and his 139-minute Netflix original western, THE HARDER THEY FALL, from 2021 — which also starred LaKeith Stanfield and RJ Cyler. He also directed the 10-minute music video for the aforementioned Jay-Z’s 2017 single, “Legacy.”
Speaking of music, Samuel — the younger brother of Grammy winner Seal — is also a musician himself, having released music under his stage name, The Bullitts. He has also composed the score for all of his films, including THE BOOK OF CLARENCE, and served as the executive music consultant for Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s THE GREAT GATSBY and the executive music producer for the animated adventure comedy, ARCTIC DOGS, from 2019.
Watch The Trailer
Our plot description just barely scratches the surface of what kind of movie-going experience THE BOOK OF CLARENCE is bound to be. To get a better idea of what sort of thought-provoking satire and dazzling thrills the film promises, we recommend taking a look at the official trailer. Watch the clip right here, below:
By offering the first glimpse of our title character in a warrior’s helmet with a sword in hand, the teaser seems to suggest that THE BOOK OF CLARENCE is some sort of action epic — and there are plenty of subsequent moments to support that claim, too, including intense fight choreography and a horse-drawn carriage chase. However, it also appears to be so much more, with flashes of humor in its depiction of Clarence’s messianic con, glimpses of dazzling dance sequences, and stunning mysticism courtesy of Jesus of Nazareth. This looks like the kind of film that has something for everyone.
See if THE BOOK OF CLARENCE will make a believer out of you when it comes to an AMC Theatres location near you!
Get Tickets THE BOOK OF CLARENCE opens January 12th, 2024