Jesus [2019]: ‘Japan Cuts’ Review – The dilemma of belief through the prism of innocence.


“Jesus (Boku wa Iesu-sama ga kirai ) gets thematically heavy as it reaches its finale. It poses serious questions about the importance of prayers and the existence of God without getting melodramatic.”

A young city kid moves to a snowy idyllic town, nestled between the mountains. Introverted and shy, he joins a Christian School where kids his age are over-enthusiastic about Prayer Assemblies. He’s puzzled by their excitement as if Biblical Hymns were some Pop songs. His parents are worried if he will fit in a school which as per him isn’t “Normal and Usual.” At home, he asks his Grandmother if God really exists? She puts the questions to him when he answers in the negative, she says, then maybe it doesn’t.

But that doesn’t seem to satisfy his fertile imagination, and all of sudden a Thumb sized Pocket Jesus enters his life. The dancing and playing Baby Jesus baths with him while all his wishes start coming true. Belief in Jesus becomes an escapist fantasy for this year old kid. The most famous kid in college is now his friend and they watch shooting stars together. Baby Jesus seems to be working magic unless something happens which will change his life.

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It’s a film that initially follows the basic template of shy city guy feeling lost and uncomfortable in a new environment and then he ends up being friends with the star of his class. Till then its an innocent school story that we have seen multiple times. But as the film progresses it rises from being just another kid’s film to a more mature examination of faith and religion viewed through the prism of a young impressionable kid.

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There are long shots, and top shots that make you feel like the kid is being watched by some God. The atmosphere is somber, his world is greyish when he’s at home and takes on brighter colors when with his friend. The best moments in the film are when he’s around the animated little Jesus. The fact that he could imagine his God to be a toy-like playmate explains how the kid views an ideal image of a God (a God he had once rejected).

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‘Jesus’ gets thematically heavy as it reaches its finale. It poses serious questions about the importance of prayers and the existence of God without getting melodramatic. What differentiates this film from other such films is the absence of an antagonist. The teachers believe in the importance of prayers but they don’t bully him. His parents believe in religious rituals but they aren’t forceful. His battle with faith isn’t born out of an external factor but his own curiosity. The film always maintains its innocence. So, while he enjoys the company of Baby Jesus in good times, at other times he doesn’t mind crushing his existence.

A Great debut film by 22 years Hiroshi Okuyama, who also wrote, edited and did the camerawork here.

Jesus Trailer

Jesus Links – IMDb, Japan Cuts

Zafar Rizvi

A 2nd Year MBA Student from IIM Udaipur. I’m a huge cinephile and love watching films, I also started a Filmmaking competition for all colleges called Auteur’s Labyrinth. I love to watch all kinds of film, in any language, but I prefer Drama, dark comedies and surrealistic films like Dogtooth.