In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_feher_isten_ver2

White God

Imagine an "R" rated "Lassie" by way of "Spartacus." That's Kornél Mundruczó's "White God," a brutal but stirring fantasy about street dogs rising up against…

Thumb_1xhk6o9re7godwsywy9dokwtkjx

Get Hard

In this exuberant but ultimately simpleminded comedy, a car wash owner (Kevin Hart) helps a wimpy hedge fund manager (Will Ferrell) get ready for prison…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

New Jerusalem

New Jerusalem Movie Review
  |  

"New Jerusalem" tells the unexpected story of two lonely men, 30-ish, and the existential crisis of one of them. He is Sean Murphy (Colm O'Leary), an Irishman who served with the U.S. National Guard in Afghanistan and is now living in Virginia. He works with Ike Evans (Will Oldham) in a used tire store in Richmond ("Tires $10 and Up"); Ike is concerned that Sean seems inward and depressed. He lingers uncertainly outside the rest room, knocks, and says, "You all right in there?"

Sean is not all right. He is in tears. Ike is one of those men with a look of perpetual concern on his face and an almost compulsive desire to be of help. He's a Christian, has been saved by Jesus, and assures Sean that Jesus will save him, too. They have a little talk about the meaning of killing in war ("It's for the cause," Sean explains), but this isn't a movie about war, it's about evangelism. Ike focuses on Sean eagerly, as a good prospect for conversion.

We see a little of their solitary lives. Sean lives in a small, basic house, hardly furnished except for a music system and a listless cat. He seems more concerned with his cat than himself. He joins Ike sometimes for lunch with some other Christian men, who solemnly pray before they eat. There are no women in the film except for a cashier in a convenience store who smooches a little with Sean, to no conclusion.

Ike takes Sean to a Sunday service of his church group, where Sean slowly begins to clap in time with a gospel tune and even forces a smile. The two men log time in coffee houses, where Sean's depression is evident, and Ike hesitantly reaches out to hold his hand. After the service, at his house, Ike washes Sean's feet. Sean's not in favor of that.

They have an argument about the efficiency of medication against Sean's depression, as opposed to being healed by Jesus. Ike seems to be controlling anger as he insists Jesus is the only way. He wants to help Sean so badly. The two performances are serious and contained; neither man seems to feel much joy.

I don't believe "New Jerusalem" takes a position in favor of either character. It's more of an intense study of these two men and their barren work in a shabby store by the side of a highway. Surprisingly, the same director and co-writer (Rick Alverson and Colm O'Leary) collaborated on another film that played not long ago at Facets, "The Comedy." Two films could not be less alike. One vulgar and heartless. Now this one, so quiet and sad.

Popular Blog Posts

“The Breakfast Club”, 30 Years Later: A Conversation Across Generations

A film teacher looks back on "The Breakfast Club," partly through the eyes of her students.

The Melodrama Of Woody Allen’s Critical Reputation

The conversation about Woody Allen's personal and professional lives intertwining continues, but to what end?

Now, "Voyager": in praise of the Trekkiest "Trek" of all

As we mourn Abrams’ macho Star Trek obliteration, it’s a good time to revisit that most Star Trek-ian of accomplishme...

No Animals Were Harmed: The Unique Perspective of “White God”

A piece on the use of animals in film in light of "White God".

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus