In this dark comedy from producer-director Jon Avnet, Dr. Alan Stone (Richard Gere) breaks new ground for treatment of the mentally ill through an experiment on three paranoid schizophrenic patients (Peter Dinklage, Bradley Whitford, Walton Goggins) who believe they are Jesus Christ.
Golden Globe winners Richard Gere and Peter Dinklage star in this comic and cathartic study of the human psyche's outer limits. Based on revered social psychologist Milton Rokeach's 1964 book The Three Christs of Ypsilanti, this latest film from writer-director-producer Jon Avnet (Fried Green Tomatoes) is about recognizing our delusions and the rich imaginations from which they spring.
Dr. Alan Stone (Gere) has found Jesus — in triplicate. Stone is charged with providing treatment to three different paranoid schizophrenic patients at Michigan's Ypsilanti State Hospital who all attest to being Jesus Christ. Stone brings the trio together, confronts them with their conflicting claims and coaxes them into forging a unique sort of support group. As these men grapple with Stone's affront to their beliefs, they inch closer to seeing themselves in a new light.
Many movies get mental illness wrong. Three Christs helps remedy this, partly by adhering to the insights found in Rokeach's landmark text, and partly by placing its mentally ill characters in the foreground. As the patients, Dinklage (also at this year's Festival in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), The Hateful Eight's Walton Goggins, and The West Wing's Bradley Whitford invest their performances with vivacity and complexity. It is impossible to determine what constitutes a "cure" in these matters, but by the end of Three Christs we leave with a sense of deeper understanding, gratitude, and wonder.
Roy Thomson Hall