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La vie de Jésus

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France · 1997
1h 36m
Director Bruno Dumont
Starring David Douche, Marjorie Cottreel, Kader Chaatouf, Sébastien Delbaere
Genre Drama, Romance

Twenty-something Freddy is becalmed in a podunk French village where the only sign of life is the local amateur brass band and youth aimlessly roaming around the countryside on scooters. He has an intense sexual connection with his girlfriend but has no joy or passion to give her. When she falls for a handsome Arab youth a tragedy unfolds.

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What are critics saying?


TV Guide Magazine by

Harsh and unsparing, Dumont's all-too-believable film charts with breath taking precision the distance between the unencumbered beauty of moving through space and the agony of inexorably falling to earth.


San Francisco Chronicle by Bob Graham

It is described as about a guy who came back to life, and clearly one of Dumont's aims in The Life of Jesus is to express a spirit of charity for flawed humanity amid the rhythms of ordinary life.


Time Out by Geoff Andrew

Making use of locals instead of professional actors lends authenticity to this impressive look at a group of otherwise innocuous teenage lads in a boring northern French town (Bailleul in Flanders), driven to violence by a mixture of boredom, jealousy, macho pride and ingrained racism.


The New York Times by Janet Maslin

I wanted to show how the underlying racism of society can transform a banal love story into a tragedy, Mr. Dumont has said. His film, for all its characters' uncommunicativeness, is too flat and unswerving to convey that idea surprisingly. But it does bring haunting power to the bitter, tongue-tied helplessness that sets its tragedy in motion.


Variety by Lisa Nesselson

An uncompromising portrait of thwarted emotions and small-town tedium, The Life of Jesus is a luminous and disconcerting feature debut from scripter-helmer Bruno Dumont. Pic’s deliberate pace, as it details the actions of adolescents with stifled inner lives, poses a commercial obstacle in markets unfriendly to leisurely fare, but film holds definite rewards for patient viewers and fest auds.


Chicago Reader by Ronnie Scheib

Despite its title, Bruno Dumont's extraordinary first feature is not about Christ, at least not on any literal level. The Life of Jesus may not be about religion, but like the films of Bresson, it is about redemption.

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