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The JacketThe Jacket

Starring Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mackenzie Phillips and Kris Kristofferson
Directed by: John Maybury

 

 

 

Bluntly speaking? The Jacket is an uncategorizable little film; part romance, part horror, part mind-bending dimensional study; perhaps its best lapel label is what could be called the Charlie Kaufmanesque genre. But, certainly Kaufman Lite - 1/3 the flavor but still a satiating drink of entertainment…

There are many pros and cons within the film - luckily the pros ultimately out way the cons. Especially in the acting and mood of the piece. Within the ever-evolving screenplay, which sometimes jerks along as elegantly as an etch-a-sketch in scherzo, lay its nucleus, Adrien Brody. Film loves Brody. And Adrien returns the admiration by supplying the medium with a one-of-a-kind duality of a subtle screaming talent that just makes him beguiling - even in say something as mundane as a Pepsi commercial…

Story goes…Jack Starks (Adrien Brody) has just been shot in the head in a war situation. As he lay bleeding from the skull he announces to us, "This was the first time I died…" and off we go.

Starks recovers from the massive head wound and lands wandering in his home state of Vermont upon a lonely road. He comes across a woman and her daughter. The woman is stinking drunk, and the child curious and friendly, their vehicle broken down…he fixes things up and off the little family go in their truck, he back upon the road.

An hour later Starks hitches a ride with the wrong guy (Brad Renfro) and consequently ends up on trial for murdering a police officer.

Here's where the jacket comes in.

Starks, whose wartime head wound apparently left a big scar as well as a bit of mental disturbance, is sentenced to a psychiatric institute. Once there Jack becomes part of his bizarre doctor's (Kris Kristofferson) experiments on the loonier of the nest's loons via psychotropic drugs, a filthy restraining jacket (that looks suspiciously like an old sea-diver's suit circa 1899) and a chamber the fine doctor flings these victims, err, patients into; a chamber which is basically a morgue drawer deep in the catacombs of the hospitals basement.

It's getting good now…

Starks goes bonkers in the horrific space and his mind (swimming in experimental drugs) transports him to far away places. Well, far in the future at least, the actual location of his"time travel" is basically just over the hill in the adjoining town.

In his mind travels Jack meets a familiar face from his past named Jackie Price (Keira Knightley). Jackie is to become a part of his now, which is the future - maybe.

To ad to the whole conundrum, Jack also discovers while in the chamber "day tripping," he was murdered years before he even met Jackie. Now the two try to solve his murder. I think.

And that's what is great about the film - thinking. While it's no Memento in its delivery or depth, it does make you work for the plot. Something I find refreshing.

Speaking of refreshing…that Village crapfest aside, Adrien Brody is a stunning talent. He has these eyes that convey a thousand words with a glance. Not traditionally handsome he's still edible - like a big slice of torte rustica; layers of rich and fine ingredients - that may not be the most beautiful selection on the dish, but certainly one of the tastiest.

And for you female lovin' of the species…. the rumors heard like enigma code through the boy's locker room are true! Keira Knightley does flash the boobski in a tub scene. But, more importantly, she also ads another layered emotional portrait to her ever growing list of character studies. Is it fair to say she was almost too beautiful for this role? Perhaps not.

Jennifer Jason Leigh shows up as a doctor in the ward - not sure what her character's point was - but it is always nice to see Miss Parker on the big screen.

The more art-as-film lovers should immediately venture forth to see this artistical, if not brilliant, piece. The ads, which make the film look like a cross between The Ring and Leatherface, are ill executed. It's a man's mind trip with several open interpretations as to what he is experiencing. A thinking film some may not be willing to grant the process. But, the performance by Brody and the nightmare scape, deliciously executed by cinematographer Peter Deming and production designer Alan MacDonald (and crew) - as directed by John Maybury accented with a Brian Eno score - alone are worth the fee-to-view. Enjoy.


Snack recommendation: Tums with a Prozac chaser

 

 


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