In the lead up to the 7th Canadian Film Festival in Australia (August 2012), join us as we countdown the Top 100 Canadian Films of the past 30 years. We'll be posting one film a day leading up to Canada Day on July 1st 2012. Do you agree with our team favourites? Let us know your thoughts!
#5 – Jesus of Montreal
Denys Arcand followed up his saucy hit Decline of the American Empire with this clever satire of the story of Jesus Christ that’s part criticism of, and part homage to, its source text.
Intense and brilliant young actor Daniel (Lothaire Bluteau) is hired by a forward-thinking priest to revitalise his church’s Passion play; Daniel gathers a group of acolyte actors and together they create a revisionist version of the Gospels. The play is a great hit, but the church becomes worried that Daniel and his troupe have strayed too far from dogma and that their Passion play is blasphemous; they try to shut the production down.
Daniel – who, after all, is only trying to spread a message of peace – is persecuted for his beliefs and starts going through the same trials as Jesus (he manages to suffer from Jerusalem Syndrome without ever setting foot outside Montreal). The film cleverly becomes a story about a Passion play structured as a Passion play, as Daniel moves through the Stations of the Cross, littered with modern-day metaphors for events from the Bible.
Arcand manages to walk the fine line between being constructively critical of organised religion and not descending into easy pot-shots – it’s no mistake that most of online analysis of the film comes from religious quarters.
Nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1989 and the winner of the same year’s Genie Award for Best Canadian Film, Jesus of Montreal received a mixed critical reception on its release, but has since become recognised as one of pinnacles of Canadian cinema: an intelligent, ambitious and inspired piece of cinema.
- Nick Jarvis
“An art-house version of the Passion--a story-within-a-story so powerful that it can't be contained within the performance.” Movie Metropolis
To see the other films in the countdown so far, click here.