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Jesus of Montreal

Reviewed By Thom
Posted 12/14/99 11:35:24

"A Passion Play that glorifies the sacred in humanity"
5 stars (Awesome)

Daniel, played by French Canadian actor Lothaire Bluteau, learns the mystery of the humanity of Jesus Christ as he performs that role in an unorthodox passion play performed by an unorthodox group of actors led by an unorthodox priest. The lessons are clear, but the focus is less on religious devotion and more on the human as his or her soul is elevated to the heights of beauty, compassion and mercy.

This is a religious play for atheists who nonetheless believe in the awesome potential of humankind to lift itself out of its id- driven survival instincts and into the ideal humanity portrayed by Jesus in the gospels.

Quick background: The passion play is performed each Easter and represents the events leading up to and including the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The play is intended to generate an emotional response to the central fact of Christianity, the resurrection of Christ that transformed him from a great spiritual teacher and political revolutionary into a God.

Daniel leads a cast of actors to produce the annual passion play for the local parish. As they start to work on the play, its meaning becomes so much more clear in terms of its impact on humanity. Each time Daniel is raised on the cross during one of the stations, the meaning of that act for a human dives a little deeper into the reflection of the drama that is happening in the actor's real life.

And when Daniel falls from the cross, the lesson of Jesus's great sacrifice is told again in human terms. Man is weak and a cross is hard to bear.

Melancholy and uplifting. Simply beautiful to watch. Jesus of Montreal approaches the possibility of the sacredness in a supposedly fallen humanity. The mystery play of the passion becomes the mirror for the mystery play of the lives of the people involved as they explore their lives inside the grey areas untouched by the catholic dogma that permeates their culture.

The emptiness of a godless faith is replaced by the joy of learning about the subtle faculties of the human spirit in this bittersweet tragedy of decidedly human proportions.

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