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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Jesus’ Son (review)

Fuckhead (Billy Crudup: Waking the Dead) more than shows he deserves this disparaging nickname in Alison Maclean’s joyless and empty Jesus’ Son. An unemployed drifter moping around Iowa City in the early 1970s, FH keeps company with friends he hates and a new girlfriend, Michelle (Samantha Morton), who gets a kick out of living in squalid motels until the money runs out. She shoots up and he pours breakfast cereal as they watch morning cartoons — ah, domestic bliss. Call it Cornspotting, but without any of that other film‘s bleak, blackly funny charm. Instead, this is two hours of vomiting, drug-induced hallucinations, and other pointlessly gruesome episodes as hopeless, helpless, hardbitten drunks and junkies seemingly try their best to put themselves out of their misery. If only the audience were so lucky. And what’s the deal with Fuckhead? Is he a little retarded, or is his brain just deep-fried from all the mind-altering substances he ingests? His disjointed, unconnected narration of the film skips around, backtracking when he’s forgotten to relate something important to the story, so the film ends up as addled and incoherent as a drug addict’s perception of the world must be. The high-caliber cast — including Denis Leary (True Crime), Jack Black (Cradle Will Rock), Dennis Hopper (EDtv), and Holly Hunter (A Life Less Ordinary) — give it their all, but what was the point? This is a senseless, ugly film.

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MPAA: rated R for graphic drug use, strong language, sexuality and some violent images

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
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