Release Date: April 6th, 2007 (Village East Cinemas) by Cineville.
The Cast: Joe Arquette, Patricia Mota, Mark Wystrach, Maurizio Farhad, Telana Lynum.
Directed by Carl Colpaert.
BASIC PREMISE: Jesús Feliciano (Arquette), a U.S. Marine, returns to his wife (Mota) and daughter (Lynum) in California and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: G.I. Jesús is an intriguing anti-war film with deadpan acting and odd scenes which intentionally seem out-of-place. The plot begins in the second act when Jesús has already fought for the military in Iraq in exchange for a U.S. citizenship. Upon his return to a California trailer park where his wife, Claudia, and his young daughter live, he gradually acts insane and even paranoid. It’s as if the military switched him with a clone that lacks the same personality he had before the war—his wife barely recognizes him as the same person she once married. He often talks to an imaginary Iraqi named Mohammed (Farhad) who lost his family in the war. Jesús’ post-traumatic stress disorder eventually leads his wife to consider cheating on him with another man. To make matters worse, Jesús must return to the military very soon and suggests to wife they all move to Mexico together, but she refuses. Joe Arquette initially gives a deadpan performance as Jesús, but toward the end, he acts with more emotion when he suspects that Claudia is having an affair. Co-writer/director Carl Colpaert, fortunately, doesn’t allow the plot to get too preachy or dull. It would have been helpful, though, if he had shown some scenes with Jesús interacting with his family before the war, just so that you can get an idea of the real Jesús. Nonetheless, Colpaiert’s attention to detail is evident in many scenes and he wisely makes you empathize with Jesús’ confusion and delusions by including bizarre, dreamlike scenes, i.e. when Jesús and others play musical chairs. His choice of repeating the song “California Dreamin’”, by the Mamas and the Papas, on the soundtrack feels very well-chosen.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Throughout G.I. Jesús, Colpaiert shows his criticism of war in Iraq in both subtle and explicit ways. For example, Jesús hands out a promotion DVD of the military to young kids who look at the montage of battle scenes and keep on saying “cool” as if they were watching a video game. It’s also interesting that Colpaiert chose the name of Jesús’ imaginary Iraqi man to be Mohammed, which is also the name of the Muslim messenger of Allah, the Muslim God just like Jesus is the messenger of God for the Christians. Mohammed makes Jesús feel ashamed of being a marine. In a brief scene, a school teacher tries to straighten out a paper she hangs that says “Peace” on it, but it just ends up dangling. War, in reality, is far from glamorous; it’s ugly, disgusting and scary. Those who are lucky enough to survive like Jesús will never again be the same person, in spirit, that they were before they left home.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0
IN A NUTSHELL: An intriguing, disturbing and timely anti-war drama.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater
The "G" Menu