Set in the early 1970s, “Jesus’ Son” is a series of linked stories that chart the to-hell-and-back journey of a young man who has entered the world of drug abuse. Told in the way a person might recount a series of anecdotes over a drink – with all the mistakes and exaggerations, false starts and shuttling back in time that inevitably occurs – as we glimpse into this man’s heart and mind.
Narrating the film in a disarming tone of voice, the young man (Billy Crudup) presents his story; the ecstasy of first live, the agony of loss, the sadness of substance abuse and the starkness of sudden sobriety. The film puts us in the center of a grimy lost world of uneducated party people who become prisoners of their drug lifestyle. To view a person shooting up is one of the most disturbing images I can remember. They melt away, losing their humanity and becoming soulless rag dolls while momentarily escaping their pain. Crudup and the supporting cast give powerful, often-insightful performances, but it is difficult to sit through a film, where we are subjected to 110 minutes of lives going down destructive routes, attempting to discover solutions to their emptiness, knowing well, that the one key to redemption is in a place they never search.