19 September 2010

The Jacket

This is a curious film. I don't know the actual story of its production (I may look into it after writing this, or I may just leave my assumptions alone), but it feels like one of those movies that barely got made. The story concept is generally strong, but the grandfather-paradox-heavy patness smacks of young screenwriter to me (ahem). The performances are a little uneven but generally good, and the cast is certainly great, but the dialogue and characterizations (particularly motivation) are a little too easy, glib, or unnatural. The photography is a little too flashy, especially when it leans uncomfortably on high-contrast extreme close-ups of the lips or eyes of Adrian Brody, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Kris Kristofferson. For me, the editing consistently drew attention to itself, which as they say defines bad editing ("the invisible art"). But it's not like this is a bad movie, at all. Just a very calculated movie. A very designed, constructed, anti-naturalistic one.

The Jacket reminds me of The Butterfly Effect or The Machinist or maybe a Natali film like Splice or Cube (that's the second time I've been reminded of Cube recently). It's dark, high-concept, stylized in a sort of generic way, and the story never quite gels, never quite earns plausibility, but feels somewhat worth watching anyway. It's a good movie that doesn't seem to have any idea how to be (or maybe any hope of being) a great movie.

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