Mar 29, 2014

Review: Jésus de Montréal [Jesus of Montreal] (1989)

Denys Arcand, probably one of Quebec's most talented directors brings us Jesus of Montreal, a film that covers so many topics while still keeping a sense of humor. There are a lot of themes and commentaries going on but it doesn't get overloaded. What really makes the movie special though is how the story connects with Jesus' life.

Lothaire Bluteau plays Daniel, an actor who agrees to take over a Passion play. He goes on a hunt to gather the right actors for all the parts, while still being coy about how the play will go down. It's a production that has been declining in popularity, so it's his job to breath new life into it. 

There are some extremely comedic moments, like the dubbing of a porn movie in French and some typical but smart Quebecois humour bits but there's a lot of depth beyond just laughs. I find that this movie could still work today in 2014; so much of it is even more true today. For example, a lawyer tries to entice Daniel with getting his face on a billboard for charities which will "look good" but really it's just about raising his profile.

Daniel isn't about fame, he just wants to get his play noticed. Once the Church gets wind of its revisionist and controversial elements, there's trouble. The actors involved all do a great job and the dialogue is solid and sure.

I'm from Montreal myself so it was nice to see my city in this movie. However, it doesn't do it superficially just to make us Montrealers happy. There's some beautiful cinematography in Montreal's subway system and I liked the wink about Quebec's medicare system, which is bureaucratic and slow as a slug. I can't get over that this was made in 1989. Like I said, it's even more relevant today.

All in all, Jesus of Montreal is a great movie worth watching until the end. If you know your Bible well, you'll be sure to have an even deeper appreciation for it.