“Won’t fit everyone, but if you can wear it, it’s a fresh, fun science-lesson for the noggin” – Clint Morris
Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Kris Kristofferson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kelly Lynch
“I don’t belong here”, the film’s central character is heard uttering several times throughout the film. Or, was that the echo of the audience who’d walked into the film expecting a nail-biting popcorn thriller, only to find a film as far from commercial as a backyard business with an imperceptible marketing budget?
The befuddling, slightly go-ahead “Jacket” sunk at the U.S box office – if only because the film was marketed as something it wasn’t. To the studios merit though, it’s a hard one to box and an even harder product to sell. Even the art-house crowds that should’ve probably been beleaguered with the publicity – and not the popcorn-chewing teenagers – will probably be hitting their high school science notes upon exit for the answer to this ambitious tale. Unlike the titular attire of clothing, which is usually bought with size in mind, not everything here quite fits.
You don’t want to put “The Jacket” back on the rack though – there’s enough here to keep the thread from running, and with such an inoculation of imagination injected, it’s hard to take your eyes off it. As obscure as it is, it might just be the most original film of the year.
Academy Award Winner Adrien Brody [“The Pianist”] plays another multi-layered character in Jack Starks, a former Gulf-War soldier who’s arrested for a murder he can’t remember committing, and consequently left to waste away in a mental hospital.
Whilst other patients might be left to just sit by a window and drool, Starks is being whisked away at various times throughout the day to wear a straight jacket and sit it out in a morgue drawer. Once he’s in there – and stops screaming for dear life – Starks realizes that he’s able to aggressively survey his memories, ultimately giving him the ability to travel forward to the year 2007, and the chance to change his present situation with his knowledge of the future. Yep, all whilst still being in the morgue drawer.
Brody is solid in the movie, at his best when playing the scared witless chap of the time-travelling morgue drawer. On the other hand, English beauty Keira Knightley, playing a young woman the time-travelling Starks meets in 2007 only to discover that they’ve actually crossed paths before, proves she may just be looks and legs after all, dishing out a performance that’s stilted, scattered and all the more painful to watch because of a wonky American accent. Better are Kris Kristofferson (almost unrecognisable in the scenes set in 1992, where his trademark grey curls and mane are dyed tar black) and Jennifer Jason Leigh, playing the shady doctor in charge of the hushed experiments, and medical cohort, respectively.
The star of the movie is the idea though – and for the most part, it works. There’s some good ideas at play here, even if they do come off a little undercooked at times. It doesn’t help that the film barely pushes an hour and a half either, it really needed an extra half an hour to join a few more dots – instead of leaving the audience scratching their head so much that chunks of dandruff pour into their popcorn – and excise the pinkness from the mutton.
After the colossal failure of the similarly themed “Butterfly Effect”, it’d be interesting to know why the filmmakers thought this one would work. It swims in the same pool, if only not as far up the deep end. Bottom line, it was never going to make a mint at the multiplexes anyway. So, why?
“The Jacket” won’t fit everyone, but if you can wear it, it’s a fresh, fun science-lesson for the noggin.
Not surprisingly – considering it only did so so business at the B.O – there’s only a couple of extras on the disc.
Director John Maybury guides you through the film’s timeline of conception – quite interesting, especially because it sounds like he’s referring to an entirely different flick.
There’s also a few deleted scenes (the most unappealing extra on a disc these days, I believe) and a featurette that concentrates on the film’s technical effects. Nothing special, but better than a slap in the face with a cold chicken strip.
Reviewer : Clint Morris