The Jesus Guy
directed by Sean Tracey
starring Carl James Joseph
Oh, my god, I can’t wait to tell you about “The Jesus Guy” directed by Sean Tracey. I’ll try not to spoil anything, because this journey of 61 minutes is worth it.
Tracey follows a man who wears no shoes and carries nothing but the Bible, a toothbrush, and the robes on his back. Over a period of three years, we learn about The Jesus Guy, or as he refers to himself, “What’s Your Name.” He travels across the country, encountering police and the mentally troubled, and even visits a “charismatic” religious convention (one of my favorite parts).
Throughout, what gives this documentary so much balance and sobriety is its approach. This isn’t simply a portrait of a kook. It’s not a hard-nosed exposure of a fraud, or propaganda from religious groups who predict he is the second Christ/anti-Christ. Each “act” has a specific focus that addresses all of those potential angles in deliberate and steady steps, amping up its credibility and its accessibility.
The first portion documents what we may already know What’s Your Name. There are clips from television shows he’s been on, streets he’s walked, those that he’s preached to, etc. It basks in all the mysterious power a shoeless stranger in a robe exudes, almost weaving a fairy tale we can lose ourselves in. The audience is swept up in the bizarre reaction the media has to What’s Your Name and how he interacts with the public. It’s compelling stuff if you go with it.
The second and third parts, you could say, address the reality of the situation, gently digging deeper into the paradigm of figures such as The Jesus Guy. He’s human, after all. He’s a person with relationships, a family, and a name. I won’t spoil it, but it’s definitely worth sticking it out the whole way, if for some reason you left your brains in the bathroom when you left during the first 15 minutes. Interviews with the people he’s stayed with, even his dad, shed so much light on the persona and the human life of What’s Your Name.
According to the Q&A in the special features section of the DVD, Tracey mostly shot commercials in-between shoots with What’s Your Name, so the set-ups are all pretty thoughtful and dynamic — no wiggly bullshit and awkward camera angles here, party people. The special features also have five trailers for Cinevolve docs: Becoming Family, The Town that Was, Equality U, A Galaxy Far Far Away, and Google Me. Make sure you don’t miss out on this short little gem!
The Jesus Guy: thejesusguy.com