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Bishop Javier Echevarria Rodriguez, the head of the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei says he prays every day for author Dan Brown and the people behind the film of his novel "The Da Vinci Code", which portrays his movement as secretive and murderous.
Opus Dei, was hosting a public relations campaign in Italy to counter what it says is an offensive portrait of Christianity, the Catholic Church and Opus Dei itself.
Opus Dei, which is headquartered in Rome, invited media to one of its vocational schools in a working class section of the Italian capital, to show off some of the work that it does in helping to train young people to be mechanics, electricians and chefs.
Meanwhile, director of The Da Vinci Code, Ron Howard, said Wednesday in Cannes that people who are afraid they might be upset by his film should not go to see it.
Based on the blockbuster novel by Dan Brown, which has sold an estimated 40 million copies, The Da Vinci Code was given its world premiere at Cannes to bad reviews.
"A pulpy page-turner in its original incarnation as a huge international bestseller has become a stodgy, grim thing in the exceedingly literal-minded film version," writes Hollywood trade magazine Variety's critic Todd McCarthy. He says The Da Vinci Code has no sense of fun, is oppressively talky, laborious and solemn, and that there is a palpable lack of chemistry between stars Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou.
Mike Goodridge, giving his judgment in the main Europe-based film trade magazine Screen International, says the film is "well-made but chronically devoid of the guilty pleasures it needs to make it succeed as first-rate popcorn entertainment". He uses words such as ponderous, sombre, murky, turgid and gloomy.
Peter Brunette, critic for The Boston Globe, described Hanks as "a zombie" but praised co-star Ian McKellen.
"It was really disappointing. The dialogue was cheesy. The acting wasn't too bad, but the film is not as good as the book," chimed in Lina Hamchaoui, from British radio IRN.
"Nothing really works. It's not suspenseful. It's not romantic. It's certainly not fun," according to Stephen Schaefer of the Boston Herald.
The Cannes audience of critics - arguably the toughest in the world - clearly grew restless as the movie dragged on to a long sequence of anticlimactic revelations reports NYDN.
"I kept thinking of the Energizer Bunny, because it kept going and going and going, and not in a good way," said James Rocchi, a film critic for CBS 5 television in San Francisco.
American actor Tom Hanks, who has the lead in the film, portraying the symbologist Robert Langdon, told journalists in Cannes that The Da Vinci Code was not to be taken as a reflection of reality.
'The film is a work of fiction,' Hanks said. 'It's part of a commercial enterprise. It's entertainment. It's not a documentary.'