Simon Magus | Chicago Reader

Simon Magus

The title character would round out the minyan in a dwindling community of Jews in a village in 19th-century Silesia, but he's shunned for improvising prayers and boasting about encounters with the devil. When a wealthy Christian merchant uses him in a scheme to compete with a poor Jewish entrepreneur, Simon, who aspires mainly to sell his own soul, inadvertently brokers two delicate romances and ultimately the fate of the entire village. A strangely sympathetic figure based on the Samaritan magician who tried to become a disciple of Jesus after the death of Judas, he links the nested subplots of this dark, comic fable about Jewish-Christian antipathy—a movie that's both willfully stagelike and craftily cinematic. Written and directed by Ben Hopkins; with Noah Taylor, Rutger Hauer, Sean McGinley, Embeth Davidtz, Amanda Ryan, Stuart Townsend, and Ian Holm. 106 min.

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