Friday, August 3, 2012


TrustMovies never saw Dennis Lee's famously unre-leased for ages (and then going nearly straight-to-DVD) Fireflies in the Garden, which boasted one of the starrier casts of the decade. Perhaps this is just as well because he came to Lee's new film, JESUS HENRY CHRIST, with few expectations save this one: How can any movie that stars Toni Collette and Michael Sheen not be worth seeing? I am happy to report that it is, and they are.

Mr. Lee, shown at left, has given us a movie of quirk: quirky situations, quirky characters, and above all a quirky sensibility. This would normally be more than enough to make one's teeth ache. That they don't is due to how Lee integrates his quirk with some eternal verities such as family, sexuality, "otherness" and the longing to fit in. As crazy as things get, they never spin out of control because they (and we) are glued to these verities. They ground the movie, and so, as light on its feet as its often is, it also moves us rather surprisingly. It never jerks tears, but it scores its point(s) remarkably well.

No surprise that Ms Collette (above: top row, right) and Mr. Sheen (top row, left) are aces, as ever, but they are matched by two young actors, Jason Spevack (above, bottom right) and Samantha Weinstein (bottom left), who do a bang-up job of portraying gifted children desperate to get a life beyond their "gift."

Attention must also be paid to Canadian supporting actor Frank Moore (above, with Spevack) who plays Collette's father and Spevack's grand-dad. This guy begins as the movie's joke and then slowly deepens his character into an altogether richer and more wonderful thing. This, in fact, is pretty much the direction that the whole movie takes. Like life, it's a joke that -- if we're lucky and try hard -- can be turned perhaps into something quite compelling. Jesus Henry Christ is the kind of movie that almost never becomes a huge theatrical hit. But like a few others of note, it will find its DVD/VOD/streaming audience slowly and, thanks to word-of-mouth, build a faithful following.

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