Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Gathr Previews Presents: Jump

If I were really clever and writing fast enough to get the review of A Touch of Sin up while there was a little more left of it's brief run at the Brattle, it might have been a good idea to compare and contrast the two. Both movies, after all, are stories of four characters whose lives intersect with occasionally nasty outcomes. It probably wouldn't have turned out well for the decent but not exactly brilliant Jump, though, as Jia Zhang-ke's film is better in just about every fashion.

And it would have been unfair; Jump is less the single-person anthology than a single story told from multiple perspectives. In fact, I think you could probably boil Jump down to the point where it's more obviously Greta's story with the other well-developed characters moving in and out and have it work out a little better. The structure here is kind of a mess, and I think putting effect before cause and having the audience see too many perspectives hurts the movie.

But I also have to be a little honest and say that the end was a problem for me, too. As usual, that goes after the review.


* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 30 December 2013 at the Regent Theatre (Gathr Previews Presents, digital)

Jump spends a fair amount of time presenting itself a certain type of movie - sarcastic, amoral, built on a fractured timeline that aims to make the audience feel clever for putting its multiple points of view together. It does that reasonably well, in fact, but it may not actually be best served by playing it cool in that way, as it's at its best and most interesting when it stops fooling around and says what the characters are feeling.

It's New Year's Eve in Derry, Northern Ireland, and Greta (Nichola Burley) is getting ready to jump off a bridge, worried that she's too much her cruel father's daughter. Greta's best friend Marie (Charlene McKenna) is worried about the way she's been acting lately, but she and her other friend Dara (Valerie Kane) have their own misadventures on tap. Fortunately, Greta is interrupted by Pearse Kelly (Martin McCann), who has been looking for his missing brother and been beaten up for the trouble. It seems Sean Kelly ran afoul of local gangster Frank Feeney (Lalor Roddy), whose vault has just been robbed. He dispatches weary enforcer Ross (Ciaran McMenamin) to get the money back, along with a couple of henchman (Richard Dormer & Packy Lee) who may be more hindrance than help.

Are all these stories eventually going to intersect by the time the movie is over? Most certainly, although writer/director Kieron J. Walsh doesn't always make the most of it - at least if you define making the most of it as having disparate pieces suddenly snap together in a way that the audience doesn't see coming but which makes perfect sense. Walsh and co-writer Steve Brookes do build a little community where everything is connected, at least, with only one or two coincidences more than would be ideal, but it often seems like they want the connection but instead have occasionally split a scene in half in such a way that it's incomplete the first time the audience sees it and redundant the second.

Full review at EFC.


After turning the movie over a few times while considering and writing the review, I sort of wonder if I'm not looking at it wrong. I walked out disappointed because there are certain obvious ways to expect a movie like this to shake out - it's got a pair of good-looking leads falling in love at first sight and it's set on New Year's Eve, which is a natural signifier of new starts and happy endings in most cases. So when Walsh kills Pearse and it turns out there's no backdoor out of it... Well, what's up with that?

I still don't think it quite makes a satisfying story. The easily-discovered robbery Greta and Pearse execute and his being run over by Dara basically wind up putting Greta and Marie back where they were before the start of the movie; planning to move to Australia and able to do so in part because of the thing Greta feared from the start - they were able to just walk away from the crimes they were complicit in. And maybe that's what Walsh was going for: You can literally dress Greta up like an angel, but it won't make her one, and New Year's Eve isn't a hard line but just another point in an endless cycle. Still, she wants to be a good person and at least has a friend who is one, so maybe a new start in a new place will let it happen.


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