CERES (202X) REVIEW (SPOILERS)
DISCLAIMER: During the COVID-19 pandemic, I found myself quarantined with the director of this film, Adam Driver, for several weeks. However, I think you will find that this is little conflict of interest, given my opinions. It will be impossible to talk about some of the aspects of this film I found particularly troublesome without delving into spoilers, so the short of it is this: Terrible film that you should skip for the sake of your short time on Earth and your sanity.
Ceres, former actor Adam Driver's debut into writing and directing, is a confusing, drawn-out, boring mess of a film that clearly has something it wants to say but an absolutely horrific way of saying it. I am convinced that the script of this film would not have left the slush pile if not for the name of Adam Driver. It is filled with the hallmarks of amateur writing--an utterly unlikable protagonist, themes with the subtlety of an atom bomb and the clarity of jello, and an hour-long dream sequence.
And past all that is the elephant in the room--an absolute abandonment of any attempt at historical accuracy whatsoever. Now, I am not generally a big stickler for getting every detail right (particularly since this film does have fantasy elements--more on that later), but I do at least generally expect an attempt to be made to get the time period right. But the setting of a settlement on the edge of the Roman Empire (attacked and taken over by vague "barbarians" about twenty minutes into the film--something quite troubling to see in a film that has released in 202X, even in the context of the Roman perspective) is completely unbelievable. It is clearly trying to shove in a metaphor for the modern charity industry and its contrast to proper welfare, but it just doesn't fit in the ancient setting. It's such a poor fit that it has to come down to essentially portraying the Roman Empire as a Marxist state--a bizarre choice which I can't even begin to unpack. It's clear no research was done at all.
Of course, I can't discuss this film without addressing the full hour-long dream sequence in which our protagonist, Julius(played by Adam Driver), is forced to reckon with the titular Ceres (Daisy Ridley), Roman goddess of agriculture, who spends the time haunting him and lecturing him about the moral importance of helping the poor. Not that he doesn't deserve the lecture--despite being a soldier who is tasked with giving Roman citizens the crops they need to survive, Julius has all the care for the "weak and undeserving" (quote) of a French royal just before the Revolution. It's clear a redemption arc was attempted, but he legitimately neither does nor says anything remotely redeeming the entire first two hours of the film before he is visited by the goddess. I thought perhaps their previous work on the Star Wars films would provide even a hint of chemistry between Driver and Ridley, but this was quickly dashed by the hour-long lecture and the clear look of distress on Ridley's face the entire time, as if she didn't want to be there.
This is followed by Julius praying for salvation, fully Christian style in a blatant misrepresentation of Hellenistic beliefs, and being answered by Jupiter (Sean Bean), who strikes down all the barbarians with lighting. This is meant to be his redemption--enough of a redemption that he deserves to then become the settlement's new ruler. That's actually how the film ends. It's an absolutely surreal mess and a waste of three hours, as well as perhaps being the most boring piece of media I have ever consumed in my life. I urge you to skip this.
FINAL SCORE: 2/10--AWFUL
+Surprisingly good cinematography
-Literally everything else makes me want to be struck down by Jupiter