La Vie de Jésus



Freddy - Fred - lives with his mother Yvette in Bailleul. She runs the café "Au Petit Casino", the centre of a chaffinch ciub.

Treated at the Bailleul specialized hospital for epileptic fits, Freddy spends most of his time vegetating with his pals. They're not even twenty., rural, relatively uneducated, and already inveterate unemployed, hanging around all day long on their motorbikes.

Fred has a girltriend - his love - the beautiful Marie, who works as a oneckout girl in a giant supermarket. They often make love at Fred's home withaut his mother saying anything about it. But Freddy doesn't go into the home of Marie who lives a bit up the street. They stay out in front, for hours on end, making out an die sidewalk. Often, they remain clinging to one another: he seated on his propped up motorbike and Marie standing next against him, remaining for what seerns Ilke forever without saying anything, as if they were praying.

Several times a day„ Freddy and his pals, Miche, Gégé, Robert and Quin, go shopping in town and in the country on their motorbikes - they even play "chicken" woth a mysterious 205 GTI and invent tests of strength. On Sundays, they go as far as Dunkirk to swim or "cruise" downtown.

Aithough he's not clever, Freddy is nice. A simple boy, a country boy. He often gives rise to pity, athough one can sense developping in him an energy, a power in his look, his strange postures, his words, his attitudes ...

lt is through this chronicle of the ilfe of Freddy that emerges a story that is to slowly unfurl as a drarna ...

Note: Oh Sundays in the north of France, there are chaffinch contests. Each player comes with his chaffinch that he has trained and notches with a piece of chalk a long piece of wood the number of trills.


Screened in the Cinemas en France sidebar at Cannes this year (by which time it had already won the prestigious Prix Jean Vigo), Bruno Dumont's La vie de Jesus is a harsh corrective to all those French films about the idylls of provincial life.

Set in the dreary northern town of Bailleul, Dumont's film is a portrait of aimless youth adrift in a world without prospects, in which sex and speed are the only kicks available. There are five boys and a girl in the gang, but the main .focus is on 2Q-year-old Freddy (David Douche), who suffers from epilepsy and is involved in a passionate sexual relationship with his girlfriend, Marie (Marjorie Cottreel), much of which is conducted in the flat over the (usually empty) cafe which his mother owns.

When they're not hanging around Bailleul, the gang are out on their mopeds, occasionally playing 'chicken' with a mysterious 205 GTI. Sometimes, they go on day-trips to Dunkirk. Another typical entertainment is the Sunday chaffinch contest. Each player brings his own bird, and the one that trills the most often wins the prize...

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Bruno Dumont

Written by: Bruno Dumont

Produced by: Jean Brehat, Rachid Bouchareb

Cinematography: Philippe Van Leeuw

Editing: Guy Lecorne

Production Design: Frederique Suchet

Original Score: Richard Cuvillier

Cast: Marjorie Cottreel (Marie), Geneviève Cottreel (Yvette), Kader Chaatouf (Kader), David Douche (Freddy)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Discovery of the Year - Fassbinder Award  1997
  • Feature Film Selection 1997