[Movie] New Jerusalem (2011)

Directed by: Rick Alverson
Cast: Colm O’Leary, Will Oldham

When you don’t know where you’re going all roads lead you there. That’s for sure but, all roads are worth walking.

from the movie

It reminds me of

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.

Lewis Carrol: often-cited but not-quite-accurate quote from Alice in Wonderland

The “New Jerusalem” by Rick Alverson is a hidden gem if you are a little bit tired of Hollywood-style movies. It offers what an excellent indie movie can bring to the viewers; no stylish acting and no performance.

The film depicts the relationship of two men – Sean, an Irish immigrant and veteran, who served in Afghanistan and is suffering from depression, and Ike, an evangelical Christian and Sean’s coworker. The plot follows the conflict and reconciliation of one man’s doubt against another’s faith. It is a rare film that examines male friendship and the role of religion without being too sentimental, as you usually see in studio-produced movies.

Alverson, a director, screenwriter, and editor, did an amazing job of keeping the movie on track of reality without losing the depth of psychological struggles of the characters. Viewers might be surprised by the lack of direct descriptions of the protagonist’s transition of mind. Instead, indirect messages through the dialogs and actions – Sean and Ike, Sean and his neighbors, Sean and a cat – are the path to appreciate the movie.

The film is set in Richmond, VA, in which Alverson lives. It is a great pleasure to see the real lives of the people – local restaurants, shops, grocery stores, neighbors, and religious ceremonies – without acting.

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