The Reckoning is a fairly unique movie. It's a medieval tale that explores the world of Passion Plays along with murder mysteries. You get interesting insight into how the feudal system worked, into justice in medieval times, and how actors were slowly changing the way performances were handled.
We have a number of famous actors here. Willem Dafoe, always one of my favorites. Paul Bettany. Vincent Cassel, who played the Night Fox in the Ocean's Eleven series. Matthew Macfadyen from Pride & Prejudice. Good stuff.
A group of actors comes into a remote castle village, merely by chance, and puts on some plays to earn some money. At this time, plays were seen only legitimate if they told stories from the Bible. It was considered inappropriate to tell "made up" stories. But Willem's character thinks that should change. He thinks that other stories can be just as important. And, as it turns out, this village has a story to tell. A young boy has been murdered.
There are investigations and intrigues, suspicions and suspects.
I love sword fighting, so I should mention that there really aren't any here. This is more of a "Name of the Rose" sleuthing story than a hack-and-bash story. That's quite fine, of course.
I also love stories that have both male and female characters in them, and it's a bit sad, but there are pretty much no females in this story. There's the woman accused of murder who has a brief part. There's also a female who is a member of the troupe, but she's actively dismissed and pushed aside. So that's a bit of a shame. Women in medieval times were fairly strong characters, and they had a lot of respect. When the men were away at the Crusades, women ran pretty much everything. They weren't quite treated as much as dirt as this movie makes it out to be.
The interiors of the castle scenes were played at Hedingham Castle, in Essex, England, but interestingly, the entire exterior is fake! These are actually the Rodalquilar gold mines in Almeira, Spain. The director converted the entire gold mine complex into a medieval village, including building a keep. You can see some photos of that by googling. Cool stuff.
I enjoy watching Willem Dafoe's amazing yoga skills in some of those scenes. No, that's not a stunt double. He really can do a standing backbend, a standing handstand, and many other feats at his mature age. It's inspirational.
If there's a down side to this movie, it's the ending. I don't want to give it away, of course, but the cutting and sequencing and camerawork are AWFUL during it. There are times people talk but their lips don't move. Other times they don't talk but their lips are moving. Very, very odd and rushed. It's a letdown after you get invested in what is going on.
Still, a good look at the evolution of Passion Plays, at some fairly good recreations of a medieval village, and a glimpse into how characters lived and loved during medieval times. Certainly a step above the movies that have characters in polyester tights :).