Those of you out there who are inclined to synthesize information, may read the bizarre number of posts where I try to tie issues like love, death, religion, and surrealism, into a single movie that's ostensibly about cops, robbers, or spaceships, and think that I can read these four subjects into anything. Of course some others might glance at the database nature of this site, and come to the conclusion I'm not one who is inclined to synthesize information.

I mention this now, because Jesus' Son is another movie that I enthusiastically enjoy because of its ability to combine death, love, and certain surreal moments, with an overwhelming religious tone. Though there are differences between this movie and other movies I have noted thus far, I would classify the films as part of the same general "conversation."

The film is based on a series of short-stories by Denis Johnson centered on this rather lost young man. The film ads a rather lost young woman to the mix, and ties the stories together with an overarching redemption narrative. This later little bit is what I find most distasteful about the film, because redemption narratives on the whole are distasteful, but we don't really need to dwell on it, since I didn't realize the redemption narrative was there until around the fourth time watching the film. The rest of the film is far too charming to notice anything like a defective plot. (I should note, that this leads me to conclude that the collection of short stories might be the perfect adaptation material for a film).

The plot, as I mentioned, essentially circles around a lost young man, and his girlfriend who gets him addicted to heroin. The young man is called FH by most everyone, which stands for F#$khead, he also has a strangely in depth knowledge of theology. The woman is a heroin addict, and that's about it.

The reason why I don't classify this film as being about love, is that the female character is not really a character, she's a metaphor for something. In the film she really serves as a focal point for the main character's overwhelming passion for everything worldly and dying (the same thing...). Everything she does in the film is physical, dancing, ripping his clothes off, doing heroin, punching him (it helps considerably that Samantha Morton is a wonderful physical actress who can't deliver lines worth a damn). One of the most telling scenes is when he hallucinates her into a drive in movie (in Carnival of Souls to be specific), her actions are like lights projected, which he is simply happy to watch.

She dies of course, as things have a tendency to do. A lot of things in this movie to be exact, at least 3 humans, and a whole lot of baby rabbits. The attitude towards death in this movie is summarized by a minor character later in the film who the main character has a relationship with. Every one of her husbands, every person she has ever loved, has died in some sort of strange situation, from this she has come to see herself as lucky to be alive, and to value every moment of life. When she is having sex she raises her hands to the heavens as though she is in church.

The "value" of life is further brought home by the strange and beautiful moments that are scattered throughout the film: The flying naked woman, the man who comes into the hospital with a knife in his eye, the hallucinations at the drive in movie, seeing Jesus' heart inside a drug dealer, the interactions with the Mennonites, and ultimately the young man's total absorption with his girlfriend.

The relationship in the end though is not about love, and this film is not about redemption, or heroin. It is about the awe which one should have for the strange beauty of life.

Buy Jesus' Son the Book

Buy Jesus' Son the Movie

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