Quaratine Film Diary – Day 2 – The Jesus Rolls (John Turturro, 2019)

Stuck in the Czech Republic as a result of a travel ban announced after the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, I watch one random film a day until the travel band is lifted to keep some of my sanity.

In 1998, John Turturro played an eccentric Puerto Rican living with a penchant for bowling and crime in The Big Lebowski. Two decades later, Turturro returns to the character of Jesus in a film that is hardly a sequel to the Coen brothers’ beloved flick and more an adaptation of Bertrand Blier’s 1974 hit, Going Places.

Fresh out of jail, Jesus and a fellow parolee named Petey (played by Bobby Cannavale) embark on a road trip, which finds them switching several stolen cars along the way, going about their business with no clear-cut plan, embodying a sweet idea of antiestablishment and challenging expectations of machismo.

Along the way, they pick up a sassy hairdresser named Marie (Audrey Tautou), who provides the film’s leitmotif after she admits that she has never been able to reach an orgasm. Indeed, a lot of the film deals with sexuality, whether via the relationship of the central characters, the act of making love or gender roles.

There is no real narrative to speak of and this can easily come across as frustrating. The acting is strangely off beat and in this sense, full of terrible accents.

Though Gypsy Kings fans may appreciate the prominent use of their music in the movie, it is possible that the only one who truly enjoyed this whole process is Turturro himself, who wrote, directed and stars in the lead role of the film but is widely unable to transmit his passion for the project or Jesus to the spectator.

THE JESUS ROLLS | Director – John Turturro | Writers – John Turturro | Starring – John Turturro, Bobby Cannavale, Audrey Tauou | USA | 2019

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