Jesus Henry Christ

Year: 2012
Production Co: Red Om Films
Director: Dennis Lee
Writer: Dennis Lee
Cast: Toni Collette, Michael Sheen, Jason Spevack, Samantha Weinstein

It's a legitimate business model today to put your script through the independent film quirk-o-meter device and give your characters appropriately left-field personalities and your plot a lot of bizarre family dysfunctions.

It sounds strange to call such embellishments a formula, but this film is one that's adhered slavishly to it. Such an approach can be a problem (like it is here) when the quirk-o-meter has been employed in a too-obvious effort to scream 'give me an award at Sundance!'

Henry is a child prodigy bought up by feminist mother Patricia (Collette) who might or might not have been the result of donor sperm from Slakvin (an insipid Sheen). He's also father to a teen girl (the very distinctive Weinstein) who suffers endless bullying at school because of a book he published about her life as an experiment to see if homosexuality can be bred genetically.

Together, the four of them might just form a family as Henry and Audrey start to get along and the limp fish Slavkin withers under the slowly-forgiving gaze of Henry's mother.

Unfortunately, too many beats of the story, images and ideas are there only to glean indie cred. If it's not Henry and his grandfather having a conversation completely in Spanish for no reason it's the flashbacks to Patricia's stupid siblings and their deaths, all of them bought about by their own stupidity. Even the shot of Audrey coming out to the front of her school and launching into a protracted yell of frustration at her lot makes a handy visual soundbite for the poster to let you know just what sort of movie it is.

The quirks might have been forgivable if the central ideas had been a little stronger but all that's left to say (which sounds strange when directed at an indie filmmaker) is come on guys, give us something we've never seen before.

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