The Book of Clarence

“A fresh mix of new and old”


The year is AD33 and Clarence (LaKeith Stanfield) just can’t win. Struggling to care for his mother (Jean-Baptiste) while his twin brother, Thomas (Stanfield again), went off to become an apostle, he’s in debt to mobster Jedediah the Terrible (Kofi-Abrefa) and in love with Jedediah’s sister, Varinia (Diop). Aside from these everyday struggles, Clarence and the other citizens of Jerusalem are living under Roman occupation, an oppressive force that affects all the other problems in Clarence’s life. In a time of miracles and messiahs, Clarence’s dilemma is timeless: How does someone get through life while under untenable circumstances? Ultimately, Clarence decides the best way to work through all of these challenges is to become the newest messiah, in the vein of Jesus of Nazareth (Pinnock), and embrace the glory and money that comes with it despite his own lack of faith.

The ensemble cast at the heart of the film is part of why it works for the most part. Stanfield in particular is great in his dual role as Clarence and Thomas: Alfre Woodard, as Mother Mary, is always a welcome presence and does a great job with what she’s given here, while Omar Sy is particularly great as Barabbas, a self-proclaimed immortal with a heart of gold. Eric Kofi-Abrefa’s performance as Jedediah the Terrible is memorable as well, imbuing Jedediah with strength and intimidation but delivering one of the most moving monologues in the film that ties the biblical struggles of the film with ones we see in our world daily.

Directed by: Jeymes Samuel

Cast: LaKeith Stanfield, Omar Sy, Anna Diop, RJ Cyler, David Oyelowo, Micheal Ward, Alfre Woodard, Teyana Taylor, Caleb McLaughlin, Eric Kofi Abrefa, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, with James McAvoy and Benedict Cumberbatch

Updated: January 12, 2024 — 7:58 pm