Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jésus of Montréal

Released one year after “The Last Temptation of Christ” you’d think there was a christian revival going on at the time. This is no historical drama, but follows the life of an actor hired to play Christ in a passion play here in Montréal. The story basically follows pretty closely what you get in the biblical version, cleverly updating the situations with modern equivalents. The whole cast becomes entangled in a Catholic controversy as their play becomes a huge success despite or rather because of it’s unconventional look at the story. Their personal lives also begin to follow the story right until the bitter end when Daniel (the actor playing Jésus) dies and even has a resurrection of sorts. Lothaire Bluteau is great as the actor/christ/actor and the direction by Denys Arcand is spot on throughout.

This film made huge waves in the cinema world at the time and put Arcand on the map as a great Québec film maker. Several of his other films made waves as well, including “The Decline of the American Empire” (which I thought was pretty run of the mill) and it’s sequel made 17 years later with the same cast (which might be his best film ever).

Oddly, though released internationally, the DVD versions of this film were only in French until recently. This made it very hard to recommend to cinephiles who spoke any other language.
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