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"Of all the disciples, none seems to have been as independent, strong and close to Jesus as Mary Magdalene " writes Marvin Meyer, an expert on the Nag Hammadi library and the texts about Jesus outside the New Testament. This remarkable and relevant film directed Garth Davis focuses on Mary as Magdalene as the "Apostle of the Apostles," giving us a portrait of her role among the early followers of Jesus. We see Jesus and the movement around him through her eyes.

In a small town by the sea, Mary (Rooney Mara) works with her birth family as a fisher woman. Her controlling father, who believes he is doing the best for her, has chosen a widower with several children for her to marry. Although she has just been able to calm a mother giving birth, Mary is convinced that she is not made for the traditional role of wife and mother. Her father admits that he doesn't know who she is anymore. He and her brothers drag Mary to the sea and force her under the water in order to expel the demon they are convinced is controlling her behavior. Mary becomes even more convinced that she does not belong in this community.

Meanwhile, a new teacher, Jesus (Joaquin Phoenix) whom they call "Rabbi," has been preaching and performing healings in the area. Mary tells him about the attempted exorcism. When Jesus asks her what she longs for, she replies "To know God." Looking deeply into her eyes, he recognizes that "There are no demons here." The next day, hearing him speak, she receives a taste of her mission:

"Look at the people suffering, crying out for help, for mercy, for justice. . . Will you align yourself to the will of God until every act of love, every thought of care, and every breath is taken in union? That is faith. And that faith will have you feed the suffering to ease their pain. And it is that faith, your faith, which will lead you to God's kingdom."