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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Jesus' Son
Jesus' Son
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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 29, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

"Jesus' Son" is a strange little tale, alternately depressing and humorous, but well-acted and consistently engaging. Billy Crudup, who gained mainstream fame last year in "Almost Famous" plays a charater here whose name can only be printed as "FH", as I like to keep the site away from an R rating. Early on, he meets Michelle(Samantha Morton, who was excellent in "Sweet and Lowdown") and soon becomes addicted to heroin.

The two previously weren't going anywhere - loners who stumbled into one anothers lives. They make their way around the midwest; it's not the destination, but the journey, with these two characters. They run into several interesting folks, such as Wayne(Dennis Leary), who FH goes with to rip a house apart. Even more entertaining is Georgie(Jack Black of "High Fidelity"), a hospital orderly who gets high with the rest of them.

Black's character provides a fix of light laughs without having the film stray too far away from the the seriousness of the theme of addiction - the comedy is definitely dark, in various levels. The storyline is also presented in a rambling, but entertaining fashion. "FH" goes backward and forward trying to tell his tale, stopping here in the middle to start again there at the begining.

Crudup has talked about in various interviews his feelings on not wanting mainstream fame, but simply, I think he's too good an actor not to be noticed, even if he does do smaller films like this one for the rest of his career. His last several performances, in "Waking The Dead", "Jesus" and "Famous" are among the best I've seen recently. As written, this is a somewhat unsympathetic character, but Crudup plays him in a way that we want him to succeed, or at least begin the road to recovery.

The same can be said for several of the co-stars, who alwso do an excellent job. Morton is excellent, as is the always entertaining Black. Dennis Hopper even shows up for an enjoyable small performance. Cinematography is even wonderful, with some sequences that are quite beautiful looking, in their own haunting way.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Jesus' Son" recieves a moderately enjoyable presentation from Universal. Usually, Lion's Gate/Universal co-releases present some concerns, but the 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer here only presented a few minor problems. Sharpness and detail fare well throughout, with only a couple scenes throughout the movie seeming slightly soft.

Although I didn't notice anything in the way of pixelation, there were a couple of instances of light shimmering now and then, but nothing distracting. Print flaws were limited to some minor marks, and even those were only visible very briefly in a couple of scenes. A few scenes also appeared slightly grainy.

Colors also look great - several scenes show off sharp reds and blues, and colors look crisp, never smeared or muddy. In general, this is a pretty good presentation; some minor flaws here and there, but overall, it shows off the film's often beautiful cinematography well.

SOUND: "Jesus' Son" is presented in Dolby 2.0, which remains adequate for the mainly dialogue-driven movie. There's a good 70's tune every now and then that livens up the audio, but there's really nothing much else in the way of activity or great detail. Music remains clear, but unremarkable in presence, and dialogue is natural and easily understood.

MENUS:: Bland, non-animated menus with film-themed images as backgrounds.

EXTRAS: The trailer.

Final Thoughts:

Positive: The film is definitely worth a look; some scenes may be a bit much for some viewers, but the performances are excellent. Image quality on this disc is also good, if not great.

Negative: The film deserves better treatment; popular and well-reviewed, a commentary from the director would have been interesting. Or, at least some features besides the film's trailer.

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