- Published: Thursday, 28 April 2011 15:51
- Written by Lupe Haas
For one brief moment Dean (Christopher Thornton) allowed himself to believe. For once he opened himself up to the possibility of being healed. But when the miracle passes him by and touches the man in the next row behind him, Dean, DJ Delicious is done. He is done with faith, he’s done with hope, his expectations are gone. But the miracle did not pass him by. He received his miracle, it was just not the one he wanted. Dean wakes up with the power to heal. To heal everyone but himself.
Confused and bewildered by his new found state, DJ Delicious turns to the one solid person in his life, skid row priest Father Joe (Mark Ruffalo). Father Joe has been all over the world but when he came to Los Angeles, he came with the dream of opening up a state of the art homeless facility. When he discovers Dean’s gift, that it is real and genuine, Father Joe tries to manipulate it. His donations go up, his work receives notice and Father Joe is finally making some serious cash. But when Dean realizes that he is being used by the one man he trusted it sends him into a spiral of bitterness and indignation. All Dean ever wanted was to make music. This is not the miracle he desired.
Before his accident Dean was on the verge of being famous as a scratcher. He collaborated and played with some of the hottest groups in town. But now he was living in his car and eating at soup kitchens. When his spine shattered, so did his dream. Dean is a bitter and angry man.
In an attempt to make a comeback, Dean is performing at a DJ contest and he is frustrated because the equipment table is too high for his wheelchair. A musician, Juliette Lewis, sees him struggle and tries to help him out. But Dean is not very gracious and lashes out at her. When she reveals that she remembers him from before and appreciates his talent he softens up. Ariel gets him an audition with her band. Dean’s hope is rekindled.
Dean’s audition does not go well, he is still too angry to let the music flow and he cusses out their manager. But when the lead singer discovers Dean’s gift for healing they hire him back and work the miracles into the show. Orlando Bloom nails it as the narcissistic rock musician who sees Dean as the gimmick that will set them apart. And Laura Linney is chilling as the agent manager who is battling her own demons by taking advantage of young hopefuls. When she dubs their tour as Healapalooza it makes your heart hurt. How could such a spiritual gift become so degraded?
Mark Ruffalo had a real-life inspiration for his directorial debut. Mark met Christopher Thornton in acting class years ago and they remained friends even after Chris had his own paralyzing accident. Never one to give up Chris has continued to act on the stage and in television. But both he and Mark wanted to give him a bigger role. They have been working on this script for over ten years and Mark has turned in his recent cache of award show notoriety to finally get this film made. He has also called on many of his friends and colleagues to help him out. Laura Linney’s portrayal of the soul sucking agent still haunts me and Noah Emmerich plays a wheelchair bound optimist who brings Dean to the faith healer in the first place. But when Juliette Lewis’ drug addicted Ariel turns out to have the purest soul of them all it really changes yours perspective. This film will make you think.
Mark Ruffalo does a fabulous job depicting irony and despair in this film, but he was less successful in showing the redemptive side. But following the theme of the film we don’t always get what we want, we get what we need. And maybe he needed to show things in this light. Nevertheless it is a fine first effort and I hope that people get to see it. Getting the film made is the easy part. Getting people to go to a movie about a faith-healing rock star in a wheelchair will be a bit harder. But with this cast it won’t take a miracle and I’m glad that there are still people out there who have the faith to make this kind of movie.
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