Sunday, April 7, 2013

DIFF 2013 Review: JUMP - Zed's Take

Directed by Kieron J. Walsh
Written by Kieron J. Walsh and Steve Brooks
Starring: Nicola Burley, Martin McCann, and Charlene McKenna
Synopsis: Four twenty-somethings lives collide one fateful New Year’s Eve, in a night of fast talk, coincidence, and intrigue.

It’s New Year’s Eve, the most anti-climactic day of the year. We jump into the world of four twenty-somethings, a few of gangsters, including one gangster with an identity crisis. The film’s narrator, Greta, is staring over a bridge with the look of a desperate girl who has run out of positive solutions. In a voice over, she describes her uneventful life in the Northern Ireland city of Derry (or Londonderry, if you are more traditional). Has she not seen HBO’s “Girls”? This is how all people your age feel. You are not alone!

The film rewinds 24 hours, and clips are doled out in a nonlinear fashion, as we wonder what led Greta to that bridge. Plans are in full swing as Greta’s friends, Marie and Dara, prep for the debauchery that is expected on New Year’s Eve. They procure outfits that would make daddy cringe. Their elaborate plan to get liquor tells me they might be 20, as opposed to twenty-something. While these two argue over outfits and boys, Greta is still at the bridge. Has she been there the whole time? Is this a performance art project? No. She is extremely serious, and nearly carries out her plans to “take the plunge” until she is rudely interrupted by Pearse Kelly. He’s a bloke, roughly her age, who just happened to be passing by. (Looks-wise, Pearse reminds me of “E” from Entourage.) He and Greta share a conversation that pushes the plot into interesting territory. Greta’s father is the local gangster, Frank Feeney. In her immature mind, she believes she is just like her dad, and the only way out is swan diving off the Derry Peace Bridge. Pearse, still distraught over the death of his little brother, believes that Frank killed him, and co-conspires with his daughter to exact revenge.

The scheme they plan is anything but novel, but it triggers a series of events with equal parts comedy and suspense. First time director Kieron J. Walsh, who co-wrote the script with Steve Brookes, does an effective job not letting the comedy upstage the suspense. The bulk of the comedy stems from the gangster scenes. This seems to be a UK trope, because the same “gangster comedy” angle is used to varying degrees in IN BRUGES, THE GUARD, SEXY BEAST, and pretty much every Guy Ritchie movie. And while I enjoyed the execution and usage of the nonlinear format, the number of characters coincidentally crossing each other’s path seemed pretty high for the fourth biggest city in Northern Ireland.

Beyond the caper aspect and funny one-liners, there is considerable pathos in “Jump”. Each character has a purpose that seems honest and relatable. Take Dara, the “slutty” friend who craves a legitimate relationship; and Johnny the gangster, shows that killers sometimes take their work home with them.

Oftentimes when I watch European films, especially those from Ireland and Scotland, thick accents tend to get in the way. So much so that they sometimes come with subtitles. Navigating the dialogue wasn’t as cumbersome this time around, which contributed to my fondness for this film. Plus, I adore European vernacular. Mother and Dad are “ma” and “da”, “huffing” means arguing, and every hour someone’s “putting a kettle on”.  

“Jump” is good first feature. There are a number of WTF moments that literally make you jump out of your seat. But the filmmakers also keyed in on other things: catchy soundtrack, effective cinematography, and smart sound mixing. Did the director steal a few tricks from Danny Boyle, sure he did? Upstart directors always steal from the greats. It's what he does with the stolen material that makes the film worth seeing. And for that, I say, "Slainte, Mr. Walsh."

JUMP will be distributed widely on April 26th. 

No comments:

Post a Comment