Wise Blood

Director: John Huston
Year Released: 1979
Rating: 2.0

Manic street preacher Brad Dourif comes back from the war and starts his own "church" in the South - one without Jesus and carrying the belief that not having a soul is the way to avoid sin (as crazy as that sounds) - and encounters a medley of other strange figures, from a preacher pretending to be blind (Harry Dean Stanton) and his wayward daughter (Amy Wright), a con man (Ned Beatty) and a mentally retarded fellow (Dan Shor) who goes actively searching for some kind of "new Jesus" in everyday life. Though this apparently follows the source text by Flannery O'Connor closely, as a screen adaptation its tone is off: it's a picture given to caricature and over-the-top delivery (Dourif is wide-eyed and insane), letting one think it's something of a black comedy. The last fifteen minutes turn out to be quite powerful, but that's mostly because the conclusion is somber and fatalistic - the preceding elements don't properly 'build' up to his revelation. The ideas are in there but muddled; if anything, it should encourage one to devour the novel.