La Vie De Jesus Review

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Freddy (Douche) is a bored teenager living in a rather pathetic French small town. We watch him gradually turn from bone-idle layabout, to bone-idle skinhead. It sets about a series of events that will lead to his self-implosion.


It's typical of Bailleul, the realistic yet pathetic provincial French town of this film, that the local hard-nut gang have to play chicken while bombing around not on supercharged mean machines but on sputtering mopeds.

As the title suggests, it follows a young man on a path to martyrdom but Freddy (Douche), epileptic son of a pub landlady, is anything but divine. He starts out as a likeable enough sort who plays with his friends in the French equivalent of a Boys' Brigade band and spends most of his spare time screwing his checkout girl steady Marie (Courcel). But, as the seasons turn, Freddy gets an unflattering semi-skinhead haircut, takes to wandering about shirtless to show off his tattoos and scrawn, fails to do anything about getting a job, and lands in increasingly unpleasant scrapes with his equally good-for-nothing dead end headed tearaway mates.

When the lads get a stern talking-to for humiliating a chubby majorette, Marie dumps Freddy and starts seeing Kader (Chatouf), an Arab boy, and Freddy boils over into an ending so horribly predictable that it is conveyed through a few scant, enigmatic scenes. Director-writer Bruno Dumont takes a cool, distanced look at his blank central character - Freddy doesn't even seem especially racist - and always places him in the flat, empty, nowheresville landscapes of the depressed and depressing region. There's a very French physicality (a girl on a bidet, a few frames of technical hardcore sex, an old lady in the bath), but the glumness prevents it from being titillating.

It doesn't really do more than shrug at the terrible way things are turning out, but it conveys powerfully a sense of dislocation and anomie. Whether it'll make for a good night out is another matter entirely.