Rooney Mara has just made March her own. And how.

Amid the post-Oscars scramble to catch films while they're still in cinemas, here's another with a central performance that is too good to miss. Chances are it won't be playing as long as its gilded contemporaries, so plan accordingly.

A Prophet's Tahar Rahim plays Judas

Reuniting with Lion director Garth Davis and Her co-star Joaquin Phoenix, Mara's work in this travelogue of the soul deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as her Oscar-nominated turns in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Carol. It's a struggle to imagine any of her peers bringing quite as much to this most misunderstood of figures - the mystery of Mara off-camera makes her all the more powerful on-screen.

Top of the Lake director Davis begins his film with an underwater scene, fitting given how immersive Mary Magdalene proves itself to be. With the story told more through the eyes than the dialogue; barren-yet-beautiful locations and the late Jóhann Jóhannsson's score, there's a dreaminess here that's all too rare an experience in modern cinema.

12 Years a Slave star Chiwetel Ejiofor is Peter

With an eye on the present day, Davis ties in plenty of themes to Mary's awakening, but with a subtlety that only adds to the power of his film. 

The violence is kept to a minimum and anyone fearing the graphic nature of The Passion of the Christ should rest assured that tenderness is this Mary Magdalene's defining quality. Perfectly cast opposite Mara, Phoenix's portrayal of Jesus is as gentle as it is low-key - the 'role of a lifetime' becoming a lesson in humility.

Joaquin Phoenix is perfectly cast opposite Rooney Mara

A few slow sequences break the spell momentarily. You may find yourself moved in ways you did not expect.

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences