Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus

What is it about the Deep South that continues to inspire so much? That's the question that director Andrew Douglas (The Amityville Horror) had after listening to alt-country singer Jim White's album The Mysterious Tale of How I Shouted Wrong-eyed Jesus. Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus grew out of this experience. It's a meandering road trip through the South, with White as the guide. There is no real plot to speak of, it is just White driving around, talking to people about their lives. There's not much real substance in many of the interviews. The real joy is watching how Davis captures the world around White, and the many musical interludes by White and others.

The music is hard to describe. There are elements of folk, country, gospel, and blues. There are melancholy, plaintive sides to the music, mixed in with elements of bitter anger. It is a jumble of emotions, and it seems that it could only arise somewhere like the South. Aside from the music, there really is not much to this film. Like many films set in or about the South (like the recent A Love Song for Bobby Long), Douglas and screenwriter Steve Haisman are more concerned with the atmosphere. Everything moves a lot slower. There are gorgeous shots of swamps and trees.

According to White, the 'real' South likes beyond the highways. In order to find it, one must travel off the freeway and go into the woods. There, people live like they did one hundred years ago. Time stands still, and the music captures this feeling. Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus at times feels like a series of music videos strung together, and works best like this. Any time that Douglas and White speak with locals, things head downward a bit. While they do seem to move from theme to theme, overall there is a feeling of randomness. Granted, this is part of what they were going for, but the stories that people relate are a bit too scattered, leaving a feeling of little to no cohesion to the movie. Worse, Douglas sometimes approaches the line of showing people how they are and mocking them. People touch upon their differentness, superstition, religion, and having fun. It's not as profound and interesting as it thinks it is, but Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus still manages to be entertaining.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 22 minutes, Not Rated but contains some mild language, probably a PG-13.

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