Director Garth Davis’ new biblical drama Mary Magdalene stars Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix, and a talented multi-racial cast. Mara portrays the titular devout disciple, while Phoenix plays Jesus. Really, it’s the same savior story you’re familiar with, only told from the point of Magdalene, Christ’s arguably most loved, steadfast apostle.

Let’s start with the positive aspects of the film. It is certainly visually worthy of the greatest story ever told. Costume designer Jacqueline Durran and cinematographer Greig Fraser work masterfully together, turning every scene into a creamy, dreamy tableau. Their combined efforts will make you want to book a flight to Italy — the film’s backdrop — asap.

Second, the way Magdalene and Judas are portrayed — while fictionalized — is interesting. Their backstories make you feel for them, which, in Judas’ case, wouldn’t seem easy.

Finally, both the multi-racial cast and the feminist point of view are appreciated. The latter helps dismantle the long-held misconception that Magdalene was a prostitute, when, in fact, she was just a woman. Garth even makes it a point to call out the church’s own revisionist history and patriarchal biases with a closing title card.

Now, this is unfortunately where the praise stops.

The use of two, snow-white actors as leads is problematic at best. If Garth was going for progressive, he might have thought to give the Magdalene role to someone of color. At least give Mara — a nearly translucent, porcelain doll — a spray tan, for crying out loud. And, Phoenix as Jesus only serves to perpetuate the highly westernized, white savior portrait of Christ that has been proven false ten times over.

Similarly miscast is the brilliant Chiwetel Ejiofor. While Peter is no doubt an important character in the Bible and Mary’s only real rival for apostolic spot numero uno, he is marginalized in this film and, frankly, portrayed as a jerk. He spends much of the movie treating Magdalene like she is Yoko Ono and just doesn’t “get” Jesus the way he does. Truly, the role could have been played by anyone. Ejiofor deserved better.

The movie also suffers from poor writing and overall pacing issues. Scraggly, exceedingly humanized Jesus is forever passing out from exhaustion between lines of clunky dialogue. His fainting spells are relatable for the audience — at times, the film feels like a tiring slog toward an ending everyone already knows. In fact, at the half-way mark, you might find yourself checking your watch and praying fervently for the crucifixion to just happen already.

Overall, the film is stunning to look at and an unarguably bold move by Garth and his highly talented cast, but it falls short of its progressive goal. If you feel like giving it a shot, however, you’ll find Mary Magdalene in theaters, April 12, 2019. The film is available on digital and On Demand April 19th, as well.