Jesus' Son (R) No Rating

Review Date: June 16th, 2000

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.

Bottom Line

It’s like having wasted friends of your own for two hours without the

messy clean up.