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Jesus of Montreal

Jesus of Montreal (Denys Arcand, 1989)

Beautiful, thought-provoking, irreverent, haunting, funny, sexy and deeply moving are all words I use to describe what I consider the greatest Jesus film ever made, Jesus of Montreal. It's set in present-day Montreal where a group of actors get together to put on an updated version of the Passion on the grounds of a Catholic church. The troupe's ostensible leader, Daniel (the incredible Lothaire Bluteau), who is to play Jesus, begins the film recruiting his apostles and before long it becomes apparent that almost everything which is happening in real life is a mirror of the Passion Play and the Gospels, often in strikingly original ways. Director/writer Arcand looks at things from many perspectives so you can never be sure what his personal agenda is, but one thing is for sure and that's if you're a believer, you should be able to put Jesus's life into a more-modern and personal context. If you hate "religious" movies, you will quickly see that this is not a religious film at all, yet it doesn't shy away from showing a powerful Jesus (both Biblical and "actor") who is totally capable of performing miracles which affect people's lives in the here and now. It's a wonderful film which seems to accomplish the impossible by presenting a potentially-polarizing subject in a very inclusive way. I think it can only disappoint the most-fundamentalist of churchgoers, but it will reward those with open hearts and minds. Besides that, it's damn entertaining. Two of my fave scenes are the low-budget special effects presentation of the beginning and ending of the world and the hilarious scene of dubbing a porno movie. However, it's the night-time Passion Play itself, which is so hypnotic and causes Daniel and his followers to get in trouble with the Catholic Church even though it's critically acclaimed and loved by the audiences.