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The Life of Jesus (1997)
"La vie de Jésus" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  4 June 1997 (France)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 1,482 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 26 critic

A social movie about life nowadays in the north of France. Freddy and his friends are all unemployed. They try to pass away the time by wandering around on their motorcycles and by ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
David Douche ...
Freddy
Marjorie Cottreel ...
Marie
Kader Chaatouf ...
Kader
Sébastien Delbaere ...
Gégé
Samuel Boidin ...
Michou
Steve Smagghe ...
Robert
Sébastien Bailleul ...
Quinquin
Geneviève Cottreel ...
Yvette - la mère de Freddy
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Suzanne Berteloot ...
L'infirmière (as Suzanne Bertelot)
Hélène Blaevoet ...
La collègue de Marie
Madame Chaatouf ...
La mère de Kader
Monsieur Chaatouf ...
Le père de Kader
Harmonie de Bailleul ...
Eux-mêmes
Melinda Deseure ...
La chef des majorettes
Francis Desure ...
Le policier avec Freddy
Edit

Storyline

A social movie about life nowadays in the north of France. Freddy and his friends are all unemployed. They try to pass away the time by wandering around on their motorcycles and by directing their aggressive feelings towards Arabic immigrants. Freddy is in love with Marie, a cashier at a local supermarket. When she is proposed by Kader, an young Arab man, Freddy and his friends have an idea: they decide to punish Kader for what they call "such a provocation." After they have raped another girl, Marie finally commits to Kader, which seals his fate. Written by Philippe Petit <Philippe.Petit@pobox.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Drama

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Release Date:

4 June 1997 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Life of Jesus  »

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First film of Bruno Dumont. See more »

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User Reviews

Dumont's startling debut has transcendent power
12 May 2003 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

La Vie de Jesus, a film by Bruno Dumont, is an unconventional look at marginal young people living in Bailleul in northern France. They spend their time without much purpose, riding around the drab Flanders town on motorbikes or playing in a marching band. From the opening of the film, I could sense that I was in the hands of a director with unique talent. One of Dumont's greatest strengths is his uncanny ability to capture the sense of emptiness of the town and the people who inhabit it. With little dialogue and no musical score other than the sounds of nature to break the stillness, we are forced to relate to the characters by observing their eyes, their physical movements, and the facial expressions that reveal an inner sadness.

In La Vie de Jesus, unemployed, uneducated, and epileptic 20-year old Freddy (David Douche) lives with his mother Yvette (Genevieve Cottreel), a café owner. Douche gives a haunting performance as the sensitive but not very bright Freddy, his body scarred from repeated falls from his motorcycle and his face mirroring the fear of not knowing when his next epileptic seizure will come. Freddy has a girl friend, Marie (Marjorie Cottreel), who works as a cashier at the supermarket but their relationship lacks an emotional pull and their graphically depicted sex feels mechanical. Dumont does not judge his characters and they are fully three-dimensional, both guilty and innocent, displaying tenderness one minute and cruelty the next, searching for human connection. Freddy trains his finch to sing and takes the boy who just lost his brother to the beach to cheer him up, yet shortly afterwards he and his friends humiliate an overweight girl who plays in the band.

One of the most moving scenes takes place at a hospital where the friends stand around a hospital bed watching one of the boys' brother who is dying of Aids. On the wall there is a picture of Jesus described as "about a guy who comes back to life". They do not talk but wait and watch silently and we wait with them as if expecting momentary redemption. Freddy and his friends are not "bad" people but each one is tightly wound, looking for a reason to explode and the film seethes with tension. When a young Arab boy Kader (Kader Chaatouf) foolishly tempts fate by making a play for Marie, the underlying racism of the society transforms an ordinary love story into a tragedy of transcendent power.


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