Val is 23 years old and full of dreams. She travels to New York to become an actress. She is lonely in a strange country, in a strange city, with little money and no friends. In her path, ... See full summary »
Persnickety nine-year-old Percival Strum misdirects mourning the loss of his older brother into constant conflict with his trying-to-be-helpful grandmother. With his parents away, ... See full summary »
Judas - Real:
And my hair feels fuckin' good today. Schtups! I Fuckin' love this feeling!
Judas - Real:
That feeling. That crazy fuckin' feel?
Yeah, yeah. I don't like that feeling. You just need to relax.
Judas - Real:
I don't need to relax. I *am* relaxed. I love this feeling.
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Almost walked out twice... but I ended up loving it
Oh how I haaated this movie for the first half hour! It begins with a mishmash of unrelated scenes, half a dozen actors switching roles without warning, and lots of mumbling non-sequitur banter that could've been the rejected lines from Pulp Fiction.
That's not what made me hate it, though. What made me hate it was the idea that the director seemed to be trying too hard for that "indie" feel: using lots of random, quirky images for the sake of being random and quirky. I swear I came this close to going home and watching reruns of The Partridge Family instead.
But somewhere after the half hour mark, a story starts to emerge. Several stories, actually. "On the Road with Judas" teases us with a crime story, a love story, a tale of friendship betrayal, and of course the story of a man who is rapidly losing his grip of reality. It is ultimately the last story that shines and makes this a great film.
The plot is basically irrelevant so I won't bother talking about that. Instead this becomes a film of philosophical depth, attacking the question of reality vs. fiction (truth vs. intentions) and the infinite conflict that falls on the poor sap who's in charge of it all.
If you've seen the excellent film "Synecdoche NY" which came out several months after "On the Road with Judas", you'll definitely notice many parallels between the two. Both films tell the story of a writer who is attempting to write about his own life as it happens. As real life and written pages become intertwined, the task becomes impossible, confusing, maddening.
Mixing reality and fiction in a film is tough for a filmmaker to do without totally losing the audience (which I think may have happened here, judging by IMDb's low rating of 4.3). Certainly it requires a lot more audience effort than your standard linear storyline. But many films have pulled it off, notably: "Tristram Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story", "American Splendor", "Beyond the Sea", "The Science of Sleep" and the aforementioned "Synecdoche NY". "On the Road with Judas" fits right in with the rest as a challenging yet ultimately rewarding experience for people who can bend their perceptions of reality. The ending is classic.
A final word about the soundtrack: nice! Being set in 1991-1993, the film features some interesting versions of songs by Depeche Mode "Enjoy the Silence", Modern English "Melt with You", and others plus some very nice classical sonatas such as Debussy's "Claire the Lune".
Overall, this is a very deep and powerful movie disguised as a "fun romp" (or whatever the dumb DVD cover says). If you can make it past the first half hour, I think you'll really enjoy it.
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