The Passion of the Christ has been judged "sadistic", "manipulative" and "boring" by French film critics.
Liberation called The Passion "a long video-clip praising martyrdom"
Mel Gibson's blockbuster, which has been accused of being anti-Semitic, opened in France on Wednesday.
Weekly magazine Nouvel Observateur said it was "undoubtedly the most dangerous and most violent interpretation ever made of the Passion of Christ".
But conservative magazine Le Figaro said it aimed "to make the spectator understand what Christ endured".
Most French critics were unimpressed, however. Catholic newspaper La Croix said violence in the film's graphic depiction of Christ's last hours worked against its intended message.
"Sadism and voyeurism" were no substitutes for Christian teaching it said.
Newspaper Le Monde said the film's message was "part of the worst fundamentalist trends of the modern world" while the Communist l'Humanite judged the 127-minute movie "incredibly boring".
The film has taken more than $302m (£167.7m) at cinemas in the US alone, despite accusations of anti-Semitism.
The tabloid France-Soir claimed the "manipulative" film was aimed at guilt-ridden US ultra-conservatives.
And the daily Liberation said: "It is the marriage of Hollywood money and the reactionary ideology of 'made in USA' Christian fundamentalism in a long video-clip praising martyrdom."
Filmgoers at early screenings in France were less critical. "It is violent but that's the way it was," said an unnamed 29-year-old Pole studying in Paris.
"I don't understand why (there is) so much debate... every Catholic should see it at least once."