Imaginary friends make the best listeners
Emmanuel Ording | Boston, MA USA | 04/06/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Jesus, You Know" is pure storytelling in a monologue style. The bulk of the film is given over to the prayers of four Catholics, praying directly into the camera, with occasional cutaways to images of Christ on the altars of their respective churches. There are also a few shots of these people in their homes in between the prayers that reinforce the feeling of their isolation and suggest that Jesus is, indeed, their only friend. The audience is in the position of being both an intruder into the interior worlds of the subjects as well as a compassionate listener and I was surprised by how candid and self-knowledgeable the praying was. The religious context seems to evaporate and we are left with stories of each devotee's weaknesses, insecurities, jealousies, anger and pain told subtly in their own words (even though we must suspect some scripting, given the filmmaker's past work). There are moments when it is clear that Seidl is making light mockery of these people's (over)dependence on an invisible friend, but the predominant mood of the film is one of universal human suffering and the struggle to be a better person despite oneself. Like "Animal Love," his `documentary' about those who substitute relationships with their pets for interaction with people, this film shows another outlet for the human desire to love in spite of the real-world misunderstandings that often frustrate it."
Enjoyable for a number of reasons. The power of prayer...
David Shaw | Michigan | 03/20/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
I found this film amazing as much for the topic, its approach to the topic, and the continent of origin (Europe) as I did the film itself. Wonderfully straightforward, done without any apparent irony, we watch as people kneel in some of the beautiful (seemingly unused) old churches of Austria and pray their hearts out to Jesus: a woman prays for her husband and his illness and how it has affected his faith; a young man candidly confesses both his tendency to sexual fantasy and the fact that his family mocks his daily Mass attendance; a man wants to know why he was beaten by his father and how jealous he is now to see
children treated well, when he wasn't; a young man and woman discuss their relationship, and whether the man is going to enter a monastery.
I give this four stars because though it is refreshingly open about faith and prayer, it leaves you wanting more: more complexity and insight into the people and their lives. Are their prayers answered? Have they always prayed like this? Do they always pray alone? Maybe another filmmaker will take that topic up. In the meantime we have this elegant documentary about the remnants of Christian faith in Europe.