Jesus’ Son

Alison Maclean (Crush) directed Elizabeth Cuthrell’s sharp adaptation of Denis Johnson’s collection of short stories about a young junkie (Billy Crudup) in the 1970s. As a rule, I don’t much like movies about junkies because they tend to fall into dull and predictable patterns, like junkies themselves, but this is easily the liveliest and most inventive I’ve seen since Drugstore Cowboy (1989)which, coincidentally or not, was set during the same decade. Divided episodically into chapter headings and narrated by the hero, who occasionally backtracks to fill in details he’s missed, this is a deceptively rambling script that is actually carefully put together while adroitly showing the patterns of a disheveled mind. The ‘Scope framing is attractive, and the backup castheaded by Samantha Morton, and also including Denis Leary, Jack Black, Will Patton, Greg Germann, Dennis Hopper, and Holly Hunteris first-rate. 109 min. (JR)

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