Jesus’ Son

Jesus’ Son

Amiably flaky mood piece about a young drug addict (Billy Crudup) wandering through America during the early 1970s, and the various lost souls he encounters along his journeys. Less a drama and more a string of sketches (the film is based on Denis Johnson's collection of short stories), Jesus' Son makes a good counterpart to Gus Van Sant's classic Drugstore Cowboy; though it lacks the earlier film's intelligence and wit, it makes up for it with a sweet nature and a vague but satisfying sense of mysticism, suggested by the title (inspired by the Velvet Underground song "Heroin", in which Lou Reed boasts that the drug "makes me feel like Jesus' son").

Maclean, whose first feature was the impressive Crush, certainly directs with love, and her honesty with the material is shared by the talented cast and crew. As most of the characters come and go (Dennis Hopper, Holly Hunter and Denis Leary merely have glorified cameos), the success of the film lies on the capable shoulders of Crudup, a decent actor who never managed to channel his good looks and charisma into being a Hollywood hunk, so has settled on starring in interesting indie films that nobody sees. Jesus' Son isn't a great film, it's not as haunting or as heartbreaking as it could be, but as a thoughtful alternative to overdone blockbuster movies, it's worth your while.