Sunday, June 26, 2011

Jesus' Son

Netflix sez... 1999 R 107 minutes
Nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, director Alison Maclean's reflective drama follows FH (Billy Crudup), a well-meaning drug addict who stumbles backward into redemption. When his longtime love (Samantha Morton) leaves, FH follows her but meets and falls for the older Mira (Holly Hunter). Amid his life's wreckage, a near-fatal car crash and a chance to save a child's life force FH to examine his existence and its meaning.

The 73rd Virgin sez..."Talk into my bullet hole and tell me I'm doing all right". So goes one of the many great one-liners in this jumbled account of a charming and attractive but clueless drug user who everyone refers to as "Fuckhead". It's hard to call him an addict because he has such a hard time finding the resources to stay high. He's not really amoral, in fact he sort of tries to do the right thing, at least relative to the zombies around him.

The movie isn't really a tragedy or even a drama, although people are dropping like flies. It is gritty without being gray and funny without being dismissive of the grim. Sort of the flipside of "The Panic in Needle Park". The split screen scene where Fuckhead and Dennis Leary split a dose of heroin to different effect is rather poignant. So is the ending where this probably permanently damaged loser finds his place at AA and working in a care facility for the handicapped or brain damaged. But even as he touches the closest thing to redemption that he is likely to experience, he is also developing a peeping-Tom habit.

Other than being a bit too fit and muscular, Samantha Morton is about as convincing a druggie as you'll ever see in Hollywood. Her clueless expressions and red, ragged face are just perfect. You can almost see her teeth falling out. Compare this to her role as Ms. Smith in Emma, and be amazed. Jack Black has a couple hilarious scenes, and Billy Crudup's Fuckhead is a perfect imitation of that future-less guy you knew in high school.  The Virg is surely not the only ultra-hipster to recognize "...when I'm rushin on my run, and I feel just like Jesus' Son" from "Heroin", but what surprises me is how entertaining this remains even with "all the dead bodies piled up in mounds".

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