FILM REVIEW: Jack & Diane (2012)

Little ditty about Jack and Diane. Two lesbian hotties doin' the best they can. Oh goes on...long after the thrill...of this movie is gone

So, one of the Film Deviant staff members made me watch this film...claiming I would love it. And while I tend to be a sucker for intense relationship films, especially involving lesbian hotties (mostly because...well, boobies), this one is mostly a sheep in wolf's clothing.

Jack and Diane  is directed by Bradley Rust Gray. A man who knows his way around quiet lovely relationship stories that patiently unfold on the screen. What he doesn't know is how to make a compelling horror film. While he surely set out to make a hipster body horror entangled in elements of love and passion, he ultimately misses the mark with the horror stuff.

The film hits all the right beats early on. It introduces the two titular characters in such a naturalistic and quirky way that you can't help but be drawn into this exciting new romance as it unfolds. Diane is a seemingly innocent lost girl who stumbles into the workplace of Jack, a street savvy young woman who apparently falls head over heels for Diane upon first glance. It's a ripe twist on love that would be quite effective on its own...had you not been distracted by a horror subplot that feels like a forced afterthought.

Both leads are played poetically by newcomers Juno Temple (Diane) and Riley Keough (Jack). Riley gives, perhaps, the more impressive performance of the two. Given that she is the oldest grandchild of Elvis Presley, it's pretty easy to see that the girl has talent. Juno Temple gives a rather intriguing performance...more so in a "strange girl in a strange place" kind of way. Unfortunately, both performances are all for nought considering the misfire of the film.

Jack and Diane  does its absolute best to explore the horrors of the complications that live within the elements of love, sex and fear. And it does so in a much too blunt manner by literally injecting genre aspects in certain parts of the film which tend to jar the viewer rather than scare. There's even some stop-motion stuff thrown in that makes you feel like you're watching an old Tool video set to an ambient hippie soundtrack. Trying to be disturbing and grotesque at times, while ultimately being hypnotically beautiful throughout. But, that's mostly due to the amazing performances by Temple and Keough.

Director Gray shoulders most of the blame for the erratic storytelling. Sometimes feeling if the audience is watching two different movies. Just when you think that you are watching a sweet and goofy film with delightfully random moments of genuine emotions, it all switches the fuck up into something completely different. And I get that he was trying to tell a story involving young love and how it can awaken a dangerous beast within us...but, there are different ways to tell that story that don't involve a fucking fanged fleshy monster to demonstrate the "beast" of love. Gray never commits to the genre elements which makes the "scary" bits feel out of place and never a cohesive organic element to the overall story.

And just when you think Gray is done throwing in horror elements at will, he throws in a half-assed found footage plot device that is literally found on some random Internet porn site. While it borders on disturbing and provokes feelings of unease, he never fully commits to those particular horrors thus rendering the experience cheap and forced which, once again, fails to deliver a seamless part of the story.

I do like the film, mostly for its human aspects. Gray does have a talented eye for voyeuristic romantic storytelling. Sadly, because of its same sex narrative, I feel like the film will only have a late night audience on some October night on the Logo network. That's not to say that I don't feel those particular elements work. I just feel that those elements speak on a grander, more universal scale. And the horror stuff could've really set this film apart from the usual genre fare. Creating something truly original and scary.

Jack and Diane  is a film that you seriously have to be in the mood for to fully appreciate its genuine heart. Otherwise, it will just bore you half to death. The underwhelming third act only adds to the disappointment. While the film excels at telling a love story between two intriquing characters, it ultimately fails at living up to anything terrifying.


Thanks for reading,