Jarrod Emerson’s Tribute to Alan Rickman
Part 3: DOGMA (1999)
Fallen angels “Bartleby” and “Loki” (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon) thought they’d be stuck in Wisconsin for all eternity, until they’re anonymously tipped off about an upcoming rededication ceremony at a New Jersey Cathedral, during which all in attendance will be granted plenary indulgence. The pair conspires to seize this apparent loophole to re-enter Heaven. However, should they accomplish this, God will be proven fallible thus resulting in the end of all existence! Meanwhile, Illinois abortion clinic worker “Bethany Sloane’s” (Linda Fiorentino) quiet life is interrupted one night by the voice of God himself, “Metatron” (Rickman). Metatron tells a disbelieving Bethany not only of the dire situation, but that she is in fact the last scion, and therefore it is up to her to stop Bartleby and Loki! Along the way, two Prophets aka “Jay & Silent Bob!” (Jason Mewes and director Kevin Smith), the overlooked 13th apostle “Rufus” (Chris Rock) and muse “Serendipity” (Salma Hayek) all join Bethany on her journey. But dark forces also lurk, in the form of demon “Azrael” (Jason Lee) and his minions. My God does the universe need a miracle!
Despite the non-existent chance of my ever entering a confession box, I know exactly what mine would be; Bless me father for I have sinned. I had never bothered to watch Dogma until this retrospective! As a moderate Kevin Smith fan, I can safely say this film has easily become my favorite of his! Smith’s fourth film set in his signature View Askewniverse (after Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy), Dogma features all of the essential Kevin Smith tropes, but never once feels any bit repetitive. Smith’s script is a very effective mixture of comedy, fantasy, satire and adventure, and is brought to life by one of his greatest casts ever! As the main heroine Bethany, Linda Fiorentino is in many ways the archetypal hero. She lives a humdrum, unremarkable life, until that inevitable calling comes, and who better to summon you than Alan Rickman!
Having read a moving tribute Smith wrote after Rickman’s death, it became all the more apparent viewing Dogma, that Smith held great respect for Rickman, and that the two worked very well together. Rickman more than proves himself as the memorable character of Metatron. On the one hand, Metatron is a condescending, somewhat disgruntled subordinate of God, who scratches his head trying to figure out the human race (begrudging the fact that as an angel he cannot actually swallow liquor, nor can he figure out what human’s obsession with sex is all about!) But Metatron also proves to be the guiding mentor that most archetypal heroes rely on at one point or another. You might say he’s the Obi-Wan to Bethany’s Luke Skywalker. Affleck and Damon are clearly having a great time in their energetic performances as the rebellious troublemakers Bartleby and Loki. Whether they’re in agreement or bickering like lovers, the two compliment each other well. The rest of the ensemble, including Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, Smith regulars Jason Mewes, Jason Lee and the late great George Carlin all serve a purpose and the result is a completely enjoyable ensemble, in which no one feels unnecessary! I rarely see a genre melding film as exciting at what I witnessed in Dogma. One thing’s for sure; I still have faith in Kevin Smith!