Omar Sy, LaKeith Stanfield Lead Biblical-Era Comedy “The Book of Clarence”

“The Book of Clarence” follows a destitute man living during Jesus Christ's time who sets out to gain followers and fame in order to raise his family from poverty and create a name for himself.

Omar Sy, LaKeith Stanfield Lead Biblical-Era Comedy “The Book of Clarence”
LaKeith Stanfield stars as the titular Clarence in a film critics are calling "eccentric and daring."

French Muslim actor Omar Sy is part of the all-star cast of "The Book of Clarence" (2023), a biblical-era comedy about a savvy everyman from the mind of Jeymes Samuel. The film originally premiered at the London Film Festival on Oct. 11, where it received positive reviews.

“The Book of Clarence” follows LaKeith Stanfield as Clarence, a destitute man living during Jesus Christ's time who decides to capitalize on spiritualism like Jesus. Clarence sets out to gain followers and fame in order to raise his family from poverty and create a name for himself. Complications arise with his self-made revolution when the Romans become involved.

The film explores faith, humor and heart with a fresh take on classic biblical figures. Clarence, aiming to join the Messiah's apostles, undergoes a journey of self-belief and world discovery. As a director, Samuel aims to expand the biblical world, emphasizing the film’s human story over its religious elements. 

“The Book of Clarence” has been praised for its imaginative storytelling, witty dialogue and inclusion of Black characters in a genre typically lacking diversity — something Samuel also centered in his previous film, the western drama "The Harder They Fall" (2021). “Most of the stories told in the Old West didn’t include people of color. We know they existed. We know we’ve been here just as long as anyone else,” says Jay-Z, who produced both “The Harder They Fall” and “The Book of Clarence.” He credits Samuel with “finding fresh ways and perspectives to talk about these stories.”

The film was shot in Matera, Italy, capturing the essence of the biblical era, and is expected to surprise audiences with Stanfield's demanding performance in a role that explores themes of faith and self-discovery.

Joining Stanfield and Sy in the cast are Benedict Cumberbatch, RJ Cyler, Anna Diop, James McAvoy, David Oyelowo, Teyana Taylor and Alfre Woodard

Here’s the film’s synopsis:

From visionary filmmaker Jeymes Samuel, “The Book of Clarence” is a bold new take on the timeless Hollywood era Biblical epic. Streetwise but struggling, Clarence (LaKeith Stanfield) is trying to find a better life for himself and his family, make himself worthy to the woman he loves, and prove that he’s not a nobody. Captivated by the power and glory of the rising Messiah and His apostles, he risks everything to carve his own path to a divine life, a journey through which he finds redemption and faith, power and knowledge. “The Book of Clarence” Official Soundtrack features new music by Jeymes Samuel, JAY-Z, Lil Wayne, Kid Cudi and more.

“The Book of Clarence” debuts in theaters on Jan. 12, 2024. You can watch the trailer below.

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