And they called it junkie love. Billy Crudup divinely delves into the
role of a loser who's never met a substance he's didn't like.
Worried you were dozing in Sunday School? Never knew God was a grandpa?
Don't worry, this isn't sequel to the biblical TV miniseries. Set in the
early '70s, "Jesus' Son" is the raw account of a young man (Billy
Crudup) shooting up, throwing up and staggering through his wasted
youth. Through his journey, he encounters a bizarre assortment of
misfits that make this film look like an indie "The Wizard of Oz" for
the messed up. Our hero collides with a beautiful and fragile heroine
addict (Samantha Morton) who becomes the cause of his downfall and,
possibly, his salvation.
Crudup could have capitalized on his teen-idol good looks to grab some
glossy Hollywood roles (and bucks). Instead, he seems intent on using
his impressive acting skills to explore diverse and disturbing sides of
the human experience. As "Jesus' Son," the actor gives an
inspirationally playful portrayal of the junkie's arc from recklessness
to recovery as if he lived it. Morton (an Oscar nominee for "Sweet and
Lowdown") makes screwed-up nearly endearing as the woman who, like Eve,
turns her mate on to the forbidden fruit. The film is also blessed with
extended cameos from Denis Leary, Jack Black, Dennis Hopper, Holly
Hunter and Greg Germann.
Far from glamorous or mainstream, Allison MacLean has crafted a daring,
grungy portrait of lost youth from Denis Johnson's book. Brutal, yet
compassionate, MacLean rewards the adventurous with this disquieting
look at the wounded (literally and emotionally) that eventually leads to
a small but oddly uplifting triumph.
It's like having wasted friends of your own for two hours without the
messy clean up.