Jesus' Son

"OK"

Jesus' Son Review


Another scruffy, festival circuit flick about lovable, good-looking junkies, "Jesus' Son" gets by on a pair of commendably manic performances from rising stars Billy Crudup and Samantha Morton, but otherwise plots a rambling pre-destined course through blissful and heinous heroin binges, petty larceny and overdose deaths on its way to a stupor-emerging, halcyon rehab finale.

The versatile Crudup ("Waking the Dead," "The Hi-Lo Country") gives good druggie voice-over as an aimless '70s loser known only as F***head (or FH for short), who becomes addicted to H after falling for a beautiful, bedraggled user played by Morton (who was so brilliant as Sean Penn's mute, doormat girlfriend in "Sweet and Lowdown").

Between bloodshot romance, lost souls sex and fiery arguments, they carry each other toward their next fix, just trying to "feel alive."

Directed by Alison Maclean ("Crush") and based on a book of short stories by Denis Johnson, "Jesus' Son" is held together by the magnetism of Crudup and Morton, and by Maclean's resourceful style that taps into Crudup's fried brain for its deliberately fractured narrative style.

FH's storytelling will sometimes stall in a daze, meander or be thrown into reverse because he forgot to fill in a blank in the plot, and Maclean knows all the best hallucinogenic visual tricks for giving the audience a druggie's perspective on the world.

Crudup is an actor one high-profile role away from being a star, but he admirably continues to resist trading on his leading-man good looks, choosing instead parts that challenge him to poke around in the darker parts of his psyche, like FH here and like the aspiring politician haunted by memories of a dead lover in "Waking the Dead."

Morton, an actress with an intrinsic talent for lending bottomless depth to simple roles no matter their limitations, turns what could have been a High Times twist on an ornamental girlfriend part into an mainliner so compelling that you want FH to get his act together and rescue her from herself.

But a lot of the time the picture feels like it's just going through the drug-addled motions without much emotional connection to the characters.

FH gets high with a couple equally wayward bad influences -- Denis Leary is a cowboy pal who ODs, Jack Black ("High Fidelity") is a pill-pilfering orderly at a hospital where gets a "responsible" job after Michelle gets pregnant. There's some soul-searching when characters die.

But nothing about "Jesus' Son" has much lasting impact, in part because the movie lingers in the seriously uninteresting world of 12-step rehab for the last couple reels, drawing on easy metaphors from FH's job in a home for the handicapped.

The film isn't inherently flawed in any way. There just isn't anything special about it, save the deeply submerged performances of Crudup and Morton, who are always worth watching.



Jesus' Son

Facts and Figures

Run time: 107 mins

In Theaters: Friday 21st July 2000

Distributed by: Lions Gate Films

Production compaines: Evenstar Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Fresh: 38 Rotten: 9

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Alison Maclean

Starring: as FH, as Wayne, as Georgie, as Bill, as Mira, as Michelle, as Black-Eyed Nurse, as Dundun

Also starring:

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