“Jesus Is Dead” (“Patay na si Hesus”)
A Road Trip
.Iyay is a woman who is overworked at home and at her job yet she reluctantly hits the road in her decrepit van to pay last respects to her estranged husband Jesus, the father of her kids. Those children include transman Jude, Bert, a dancer with Down Syndrome and Jay who has not been able to get it all together. Judas the dog and other unexpected guests hop on board in a solemn journey that quickly changes due to “a series of hysterical, madcap misadventures”.
Iyay’s journey into a painful past pushes her closer to hysteria. The kids do not think about their absentee father whose prolonged absence has left them with a host of personal problems, all of which come to a head once they are trapped inside their mother’s cramped car. Along the way, the family gains and loses an assortment of oddball passengers, each of whom leaves behind bizarre dimensions of humor and heartache that make this film a deep meditation on family and self-acceptance.
We meet an unorthodox nun who is desperate to shed her habit and cloistered way of life, an unsuspecting serial killer and quite an assortment of drunks who at first harass and then befriend a love-sick Jude and we understand that the road trip is a microcosm for familial discord, loyalty, and affection.
This is more than just a comedy; it is also a drama but delves something much deeper. The road trip narrative is more of a character study of Iyay her family, and as the film progresses, we get to see their own frustrations, quirks, antics and other aspects of their personalities. Absurdity is that binds the film together. It makes fun of the tragedy, usual Filipino customs and tradition while at the same time it is respectful to these matters. There are heartfelt moments and scenes that address these. The film that doesn’t take it itself too seriously. Director Victor Villanueva keeps it real and simple.