Mar 30, 2014

Review: Jesus' Son (1999)

Jesus' Son could easily fall into the category of druggie drama. It  actually transcends that easy characterization quite well. The story is presented in a non-linear narrative with narration from its main character. We only know as him as FH, otherwise known as "Fuckhead."  

Billy Crudup plays a weak minded character who's all in all not really that bad a person. He just gets caught up with the wrong people doing the wrong thing. Before long he's addicted to heroin and stealing to get by. Crudup puts on a good show and his narration is thoughtful and inspired. I usually find narration tiresome and unnecessary but for Jesus' Son it adds another layer to what is already a good story.

There's surprisingly a fair amount of well-known actors in this movie. We got Michael Shannon, Denis Leary, Jack Black, Dennis Hopper and Holly Hunter. Their characters are all pretty interesting and make up important chapters in FH's life. 

I'm definitely impressed with Alison Maclean's direction. Looking at her filmography seems to put her as mainly a TV show director with a few shorts as well. It's a shame she's never really pursued directing more feature films. There's some good use of lighting, particularly in some subway scenes as well as some interesting camera work that enhance the feeling.

Jesus' Son is an adaptation of a book by Denis Johnson that to me just feels right. I can't vouch for its accuracy in adapting the source material but it's a good story with strong dialogue and I liked the form of narrative. There's a lot of thinking going on but I'll admit that maybe some of it escaped me. I still enjoyed it though and I like to be challenged. I don't necessarily want everything spoon fed to me.

Jesus' Son is not Requiem for a Dream type shock. It's a quieter movie that closely follows its main character and the people he meets. It's very human and feels very real. I can definitely say that I enjoyed it quite a bit.

7/10