Jeymes Samuel is fast gaining a reputation as a filmmaker not afraid to rip up the rulebook and that really is a refreshing quality to have today. After his take on a western in The Harder They Fall, Samuel is back with The Book of Clarence, his take on the biblical epic, and the results are quite spectacular.

A struggling down-on-his-luck man named Clarence (LaKeith Stanfield) living in 29 A.D. Jerusalem looks to capitalize on the rise of Jesus Christ by claiming to be a new Messiah sent by God, in an attempt to free himself of debt and start a life of glory for himself.
There's a coolness flowing through The Book of Clarence that makes it such a captivating viewing experience, Samuel directing and once again composing the score, which accompanies the film superbly. His musicality as a filmmaker is so impressive, a background in music lending a helping hand, the soundtrack full of bangers and the score so prominent. There's a dance sequence thrown in for good measure, a first for a biblical epic surely(?!), that further puts his stamp on the genre. It's choices like this that make Samuel such an interesting filmmaker to me.

His writing isn't as on the money this time, the film featuring tonal shifts that may throw you off course. However, there's no denying Samuel can write comedy, some dialogue and sequences here perfect for the film's tone. There's a moment with a very famous British actor that is played to perfection it brought the house down in the cinema, you'll definitely know when you see it.
Coming to the performances, LaKeith Stanfield leads the film with a confident turn where he shows great comedic timing. The potential for the collaborative relationship between Stanfield and Samuel after just two films is certainly one to look out for. There's a lot of supporting characters who get a chance to shine and no one grasps the opportunity more than Omar Sy, stealing scenes left, right and centre but a special mention also has to go out to Benedict Cumberbatch for the part he plays in this - unexpectedly brilliant.

Jeymes Samuel's sophomore feature is a bloody good time at the cinema, even if it feels a little muddled sometimes. One thing's for sure, I will be keeping a keen eye on Samuel's filmmaking career moving forward.

Verdict: ★★★★


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