Title – Jasper Jones (2017)
Director – Rachel Perkins (Bran Nue Dae)
Cast – Levi Miller, Aaron L. McGrath, Angourie Rice, Toni Collette, Hugo Weaving, Dan Wyllie, Matt Nable, Kevin Long
Plot – Quiet teenage boy and small Australian town citizen Charlie Bucktin (Miller) gets himself caught up in the disappearance of older teenage girl Laura Wishart after reclusive aboriginal boy Jasper Jones (McGrath) seeks his help.
“My point is this: the more you have to lose, the braver you are for standing up”
Review by Eddie on 16/10/2017
Based on Australian author Craig Silvey’s beloved novel of the same name, this semi-successful and well-received Australian offering looks to capture the magic that was found in Silvey’s paper version of this tale of death, love, racial tension and growing up in a small Australian town of the late 1960’s but Rachel Perkins film lacks a certain spark that would’ve made Jasper Jones one of the year’s must see local productions.
Perkins film certainly looks and sounds the part, thanks to quality contributions from acclaimed composer Antony Partos, DOP Mark Wareham and production designer Herbert Pinter but the heart and soul of the story of young boy Charlie Bucktin and his sudden friendship with aboriginal outcast Jasper Jones after the two get caught up in the death and cover up of local girl Laura Wishart never truly gels on the big screen thanks to some so-so performances and plodding editing.
Following on from his mediocre turn in Pan and so-so turn in fellow Australian big screen event Red Dog: True Blue, Australian actor Levi Miller has the tough task of bringing Charlie to life and the young performer who appears in almost every scene of Perkins film doesn’t quite make it work to the levels the tale needed him to hit.
Supported impressively by newcomer Kevin Long as best friend Jeffrey Lu, Aboriginal actor Aaron L. McGrath as the titular Jones and These Final Hours and The Nice Guys breakout star Angourie Rice (once more stealing the show acting wise), Miller has failed to make his mark in 3 big lead turns now and whenever you see him alongside Rice or Australian staples like Toni Collette and Hugo Weaving (it’s not an Aussie film without him) you realise that Miller’s performances leave a lot to be desired.
The other problem with Jones is that its central mystery centring around just what happened to cause Laura’s mysterious death is intriguing in a sense but once we are made aware of the answers to the questions we and the characters have, it feels like a bit of a letdown to what has been 90 minutes of build-up that includes detours into racial tensions and coming of age dramas.
Final Say –
Jasper Jones is a quality Australian production with clearly more money at its disposal than average local produce but despite a solid groundwork at its core, Perkins film feels like a bit of a non-event, even though a collection of commendable acting turns and a story that’s journey is more intriguing initially than its destination make Jasper Jones far from the worst Australian made effort.
2 ½ game winning innings out of 5