Jesus' Son, directed by New Zealander Alison Maclean, is based on the short stories of Denis Johnson. The short story origins go a long way to explaining the movie's patchy feel.Billy Crudup is christened FH (Fuck Head) by his mates because of his propensity to foul up everyone and everything he comes across. The common link in most of FH's otherwise random misadventures is Michelle (Samantha Morton), a junkie he meets at a party and falls in love with. It's a bare thread to hang the film on, but Morton manages to centre things for a while. She gives the film's liveliest performance, making Michelle a lot more interesting than FH and the other eccentrics he meets (played by the likes of Denis Leary, Dennis Hopper and Holly Hunter in cameo roles).
Drug taking is not a spectator sport, and watching the semi-dazed FH wander wintry America in the early 1970s quickly becomes tiresome. We've seen this sort of material too often in independent American features for it to be fresh, and Maclean's fluid direction and ability with actors cannot disguise the episodic nature of the material. FH veers from boring to downright unlikeable, and I didn't care much about him or his potential redemption.Not helping was my failure to connect with the grotesque humour. There's only so many laughs you can wring from squashed animal foetuses and a man with a hunting knife stuck in his eye.