Trying to see every new Australian film in theatres would be a logistical nightmare due to my rural location, so my selections are chosen wisely. However, some good fortune delivered me two free tickets for Jasper Jones, courtesy of Mad Man Films and it so happened to be playing my local cinema. Based on Craig Silvey’s novel of the same name, the highly anticipated release follows 14-year-old Charlie Bucktin, a bookish young man whose life is drastically changed the night a mixed-race outcast confides in him regarding a grave incident within their small Western Australian town of Corrigan.
Based on one’s nature and feelings towards certain things, there are some films we just shouldn’t expose ourselves to, which is why I’ve been in two minds about Jasper Jones. While it’s well-crafted coming-of-age story with notable performances from practically the entire cast, I was disheartened by the underlying toxic culture of this community in which we’re introduced to where daily pleasantries are paper thin, off-set by personal resentment and unfair judgment to those who are different. To the film’s credit these themes are tackled very well, and invoke a strong emotional response from the viewer. Furthermore, moments of triumph over adversity were for me a welcome sight and relief. Up and coming talent Levi Miller is exceptional as Charlie along with his best friend and aspiring cricket champion Jeffery played by Kevin Long. Angourie Rice is also fantastic as local girl Eliza, as the actress continues to wow audiences after her Hollywood debut in The Nice Guys from last year.
Now that some time has passed I can now look at Jasper Jones more subjectively, no longer impaired by my natural cynicism. It’s not a masterpiece, but very much an all-around fine and poignant Australian film us Aussies can be proud of.
(2017 dir: Rachel Perkins)