Review – The Jesus Guy

The Jesus Guy
Directed by Sean Tracey
For more info, visit www.thejesusguy.com

Director Sean Tracey’s directorial debut asks one simple question; what would the Jesus guy do? Well for starters, he would do without any modern amenities, including money and shoes. He’d trade in his blue jeans and jacket for a robe, and carry a copy of the Bible, preaching the good word to whom ever is willing to listen. Having said that, I suppose the second question ‘The Jesus Guy’ asks is the most important one. Why?

jesusguyreview2.jpgMake no mistake, the title subject of this film does not think he’s Jesus. Nor does he think he’s Napoleon Bonaparte. This is just some dude who decided 13 years ago to live his life as the Bible tells him. He eats only when it is offered to him. He sleeps only when shelter is provided to him. He never asks for help, but willingly accepts it when it is offered to him. When asked ‘What’s your name?’, he confusingly replies ‘What’s your name.’, leading to an Abbot & Costello-esque comedy routine that eventually ends with the realization that he goes not by a name, but by the question. Why? I have no idea. But by the time this is all sorted out, the curious party has most likely lost interest in anyways.

Aside from the David-Blaine-style feats of physical endurance, What’s Your Name is a pretty normal guy. He’s polite, well spoken, and very charismatic. All of those traits in combination with a Jesus-like appearance seems to spell ‘free pass’ when it’s comes to the majority of the folks who cross his path. With the help of a 20/20 television appearance, he becomes a minor celebrity. He’s invited to speak at conventions, and shockingly, makes several appearances in schools talking to kids. At this point we’re reminded that What’s Your Name is not affiliated with the Catholic Church. In fact, they want nothing to do with him. These schools are basically letting a strange man with no credentials (aside from having walked across America in his bare feet) on to their property and among their children. Unbelievable. It’s not that I think What’s Your Name is a bad man, or that he’s capable of harming a child. It’s the blatant irresponsibility on behalf of these figures of authority that are so easily won over by some simple imagery. Take away the robes and the beard and what do you have? A stranger.

jesusguyreview3.jpgThroughout the film we meet some folks who have helped What’s Your Name in the past. Specifically two women, one of which praises him for his kindness, the other of which criticizes him for his actions. It turns out What’s Your Name has a habit of accepting people’s help only to disappear once he’s finished with them, not even saying goodbye or thank you. Don’t they teach manners in the Bible? One woman almost talks about him as though she’s a scorned ex-lover. She criticizes What’s Your Name for his self-importance and secrecy. What exactly is the reasoning for not telling people his name? Would that bring him down to our level? After all, even Jesus’ disciples had names. If anything, it would seem to give people even less of a reason to trust him. Luckily, for those of us watching the film, we’re treated to a Father/Son reunion that reveals a bit of his past, and interestingly sheds a new light on What’s Your Name’s otherwise mysterious act. We get a peek behind the curtain, and it reveals nothing more than a man in robes.

The Jesus Guy is a great directorial debut from Tracey. The intimate nature of the film gels perfectly with What’s Your Name’s nomadic lifestyle. We’re right there with What’s Your Name as he walks through rain and snow. We see him praised, and we see him criticized. But most importantly, we see that he’s human. Part of me respects his sincerity. His passion is commendable, although perhaps a little misguided, and I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t wish I possessed even a little of his determination. So I turn the question around onto myself; what would Jay do? I’d probably just stay home and play Halo 3.

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