Christianity has never really taken hold in Japan, despite hundreds of years of proselytizing (with a long Edo Period interruption for persecution). In his novel, "Silence," Catholic author Shusaku Endo famously described the country as a "swamp" where the sapling of the Christian faith is doomed to rot.

Japanese movies are not swamps, but they do offer hints as to why the religion of millions of Koreans, Filipinos and other Asians remains so alien here. One lubricous example is Kazuyuki Izutsu's 1985 film "The Second is a Christian," in which a pretty Catholic nun (Etsuko Shihomi) is romanced by a yakuza and a police detective who regard her vow of chastity as an annoyance to be overcome. Hilarity ensues.

"Jesus," the feature debut of 23-year-old director Hiroshi Okuyama that premiered at last year's San Sebastian International Film Festival, would seem to be in this absurdist vein. One indication: Its Japanese title translates as "I Hate Jesus." Going in, I imagined 78 minutes of comic savior-bashing.