The Deep South of Andrew Douglas’ “Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus” is a depressed (economically and emotionally) and utterly bizarre landscape populated with white trash who can’t stop talking about themselves and their nutty lives. The film stops at bars, churches, prisons and isolated backroads where some deranged raconteur inevitably comes along with a weird story to tell. But all of the stories either fall into two categories: the South is a boring place to grow up or the South is a crazy place for an adult to live.
This production, which was financed in part by the BBC, is so sloppily made that it is shocking it got into theatrical release. While many people turn up on camera, no one is ever identified on screen. Also, at no point is the viewer aware of just where in the South the film is flowing. The press notes say the film was shot in Florida, Louisiana and West Virginia and that certainly covers a might broad spread. But where is the rest of the South? Or for that matter, where’s the cosmopolitan South? Clearly it would disrupt the stereotype harvest of the film if intelligent, organized and cosmopolitan people were to show up rather than the scuzzy rednecks who get in front of the lens and microphone.
Singer Jim White is the nominal guide, but he has no rapport with the camera and he often vanishes for long stretches without explanation (which is just as well, given what a bore he is when he is present). Every now and then, some person arrives on screen with a banjo or guitar is yelling while playing their instrument; it might be considered singing to some people, but it sure as hell doesn’t sound like it to me.
Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with the South will find â€œSearching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesusâ€ to be tiresome, trite and choked with every lousy Dixie-fried stereotype imaginable. When it comes to barbecuing the silly South, we prefer â€œSteel Magnolias,â€ thank yâ€™all.