[Film Review] Dogma (1999)

Dogma poster

Title: Dogma
Year: 1999
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Comedy, Adventure, Fantasy
Director/Writer: Kevin Smith
Music: Howard Shore
Cinematography: Robert D. Yeoman
Cast:
Linda Fiorentino
Matt Damon
Ben Affleck
Alan Rickman
Jason Mewes
Kevin Smith
Chris Rock
Salma Hayek
Jason Lee
Alanis Morissette
George Carlin
Barret Hackney
Kitao Sakurai
Jared Pfennigwerth
Bud Cort
Dwight Ewell
Janeane Garofalo
Mark Joy
Matthew Maher
Rating: 7.4/10

Dogma 1999

A revisit of Kevin Smith’s subversive religious comedy DOGMA, “subversive” may it seems in a story where God is a woman (played by the one-and-only Alanis Morissette, whose voice can shatter anything into fragments, meritoriously to be the choice chanteuse during my adolescence); there is a 13th apostle Rufus (Rock) who has been omitted in the Bible simply because of his skin color; two fallen angles Loki (Damon) and Bartleby (Affleck) find a loophole induced by a new “Buddy Christ” propaganda from Cardinal Glick (Carlin) in New Jersey, they will get the supposed plenary indulgence and re-enter Heaven, until one of them goes berserk becomes a human-killing winged creature. A blasphemy cannot be dodged for sure, but eventually the film appears not as subversive as the synopsis suggests, au fond, Smith simply picks various characters from religious myth and squeeze them into a wacky adventure of fantasy without even badmouthing Catholicism, there should be no hard-feeling (as the opening pointers amusingly noted).

So the dogma is “God is infallible”, two angels’ plan will precipitate the undoing of the present human world, thus the last scion of God’s bloodline, Bethany (Fiorentino), is a divorcée works in an abortion clinic who is infertile, is informed by Metatron (Rickman) to stop them with the allies of two prophets Jay and Silent Bob (Mewes and Smith himself), the said Rufus and the Muse Serendipity (Hayek), who is trapped in a writer’s block and moonlights as a stripper. Also involved is the evil force led by a demon Azrael (Lee) and the Stygian Triplets, not to mention the crass excremental creature Golgothan which Azrael summons.

All these modifications and additions are reflecting Smith’s geeky upbringing, a bit vulgar nevertheless, but also straightforwardly amusing, and it even becomes more topical as a cultural phenomenon now. Among the motley crew of the cast, Alan Rickman pops out with his noble persona as the second-only-to-God Metatron (in spite of his unconventional look), who is allocated with the forbidding task to materialize in front of the unwitting Bethany, explain the whole absurd scenario convincingly to her and persuade her to fulfill the mission, believe it or not, he actually carries it through wonderfully. Florentino (now completely retired from the screen) discharges a phlegmatic quality contrary of others’ comedy-leaning dramatization and loquacity (bar Silent Bob). Damon and Affleck are quite at ease to play off each other and Hayek is at the crest of her physical beauty whereas Rock is in his own comfortable zone without being too irritating. All in all, any film who has the guts to cast Morissette as the almighty God (even only for a paltry of minutes) deserves its place on my guilty pleasure list.

Oscar 1999 - Dogma

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