|Qfest Film Review: Jack and Diane |
posted by Valerie Temple on Jul 17, 2012 10:00am | comments
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Valerie Temple is the Programming Manager of Bryn Mawr Film Institute,
as well as a filmmaker, video producer and writer whose work has
appeared on such sites as The Awl. This is her first Qfest and she is
super excited about it. You can follow her on Twitter or stalk her on Facebook.
For the first few minutes of NYC-set Jack and Diane, I thought I was watching a horror film. The sound design during the credits – a stop-motion sequence of disembodied braided ponytails forming the letters of the title – had the creepy, scratchy quality of ropes rubbing lightly together. Then we meet Diane (Juno Temple), a British teenager with rat's nest hair and a Gothic Lolita get-up, who is staring into a mirror in a dance club's bathroom as blood drips from her nose. Suddenly, a disgusting, werewolf-like monster appears from nowhere and attacks, knocking her to the ground. How was I to know that this heart-pounding beginning would be followed up by a rather ordinary story of young love?
Following the initial monster attack, the film immediately flashes back to earlier in the day when the teen, in town for the week visiting her aunt, searches a bus for her expected sister. Not finding her, she then tries to borrow a phone to call the missing sister, because this is the type of girl who walks around New York City with no cell phone or money. She happens upon a trendy clothing store and enters it in the hopes of using the phone, but makes a scene when her nose begins to bleed again. (If you like nosebleeds, there are like four more in this movie. There are also at least a dozen scenes where the various characters either use the bathroom or talk about how they have to use the bathroom. It's weird.) Luckily, tomboyish Jack (Riley Keough – Elvis's granddaughter!) is there to lend her a tissue. And thus begins an epic tale of romance between the two comely misfits.
The main plot is continually interrupted by brief shots of a clump of hair tightening around what appears to be internal organs and the werewolf creature also reappears for a few cheap scares. Though meant to be a symbolic representation of Diane's burgeoning sexual desire, these strange segments are disorienting and add little save for a creeping sense of dread that unnecessarily colors an otherwise straightforward film.
The supporting cast has some street cred – Kylie Minogue has a small part and Jack's mom is played by Haviland Morris, whom you might remember as Molly Ringwald's beautiful, blond rival in Sixteen Candles – but the disjointed elements are too jarring to forgive.