Jesus dé Montreal

Year: 1989
Production Co: Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC)
Director: Denys Arcand
Writer: Denys Arcand

A comment on how art imitates life or vice versa? You be the judge. A Montreal actor accepts an offer by the priest of a local church to overhaul the Passion play that's been going on for years.

He accepts and collects together a small gang of disparate chums from across the performing spectrum. One is a beautiful young actress who wants to be taken seriously despite her looks, one dubs pornos into English for a living, one is an old friend and single mother and the fourth manages a planetarium.

They stage the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in a small complex of Catholic ruins below the church on a hill overlooking the city and it becomes a big hit because of the controversial content highlighting the hypocrisies and dark history of the church.

As the play gains more fans and acclaim the church starts to protest. So, facing torment and persecution for their take on history, the actors' lives start to mirror those of Christ and his closest circle of disciples as well.

It covers themes like sticking to your guns for your art and standing by what you believe in and is full of Biblical references such as Daniel's rampage in the audition studio, a parallel of Christ and the temple merchants.

As time goes on, the four feel their lives becoming more and more like the characters they're playing, until Daniel is dragged before the courts to answer for his blasphemy in the play no differently than the man he's portraying.

The whole thing is a nicely constructed retelling of the Passion while depicting it as well, and while the subtext is fairly plain, there's no anti-religion point being shoved down your throat, which makes it all the more enjoyable.

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