The Chosen One Review

The Chosen One
After Jodie (Luhnow) survives an accident, he and his friends scam locals into witnessing fake miracles — but soon, they become real.

by Sophie Butcher |
Published on

The Chosen One is the latest screen adaptation of the work of comic-book writer Mark Millar — who you’ll know as the mind behind movies like Wanted, Kick-Ass and Kingsman, plus multiple Marvel and DC comics runs. Based on his and Peter Gross’ American Jesus series, this eschews Millar’s superheroic leanings, instead focusing on a 12-year-old boy called Jodie, who, on the cusp of puberty, realises he has Christ-like powers (think turning water into wine, healing the sick, and more).

The Chosen One

This version transplants the story from the US to Mexico. It’s a good decision, allowing the filmmakers to embrace the country’s vast, stark landscapes and lean into more culturally diverse takes on religion. We meet Jodie (a mesmerising Bobby Luhnow) as a baby, taken on the run by mother Sarah (Dianna Agron) to escape his father, his cries causing enormous thunderstorms as they drive away, settled only by Sarah handing him a mysterious medallion. Fast-forward a decade or so, and Jodie is taking pills to repress his powers (though he doesn’t know that yet), trying to avoid the school bully, and hanging out with his pals.

A YA Netflix series really didn’t have to go this hard in terms of looking so beautiful and cinematic.

It’s this gang of friends that is the beating heart of The Chosen One. There’s the older, more alpha Hipólito (Jorge Javier Arballo); the cheeky, magic-loving Wagner (Alberto Pérez-Jácome); little firecracker Tuka (Juanito Anguamea); and the lovely Magda (Lilith Curiel), on whom Jodie is harbouring a crush. The chemistry between the youngsters is tangible, as is the safety they clearly feel to be themselves around each other, and the influences are clear — the journey they take together in Episode 1 evokes Stand By Me; the bickering and nerdy outsider-dom feels very Stranger Things. There’s even an American Beauty moment that serves as a beautiful levelling-up of Jodie and Magda’s relationship.

The more fantastical parts of The Chosen One are what let it down in the early episodes. They feel erratic, not grounded in anything; Jodie sees visions of sirens, whales, mysterious rocks and fire-side rituals, but they’re unexplained. Only in Episode 3 do his powers start emerging, and some feel weirdly glossed over, given their magnitude.

What the narrative mechanics lack, the stunning visuals certainly make up for. Shot on film in a 4:3 aspect ratio, every frame is like a painting, full of golden skin, blue skies and sandy vistas. A YA Netflix series really didn’t have to go this hard in terms of looking so beautiful and cinematic, but the effort is clear. You get the feeling The Chosen One is building to something epic, just very slowly — but being in this world, with this cast of kids, makes it worth exerting some patience.

Gorgeously shot and featuring a stellar young cast, The Chosen One’s friendship dynamics are instantly charming and compelling — but its supernatural elements take a while to warm up.
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