This week in movies you missed: a movie that might be about teen lesbian werewolves, or just about arty navel gazing.
What You Missed
Diane (Juno Temple) arrives in New York and stumbles around, dressed like a little girl, having frequent nosebleeds and asking to borrow a phone. She meets Jack (Riley Keough, granddaughter of Elvis Presley), with whom she has instant chemistry. The two girls, both über-hip in their clothes and media (they’re partial to Walkmans and CDs), fall for each other. But Jack is devastated when she discovers that Diane has plans to leave for Paris in two weeks.
Other problems: Diane has a weird relationship with her twin sister, a chronic spaciness and issues with sex. Oh, and she might be some kind of monster. At least, the film’s teaser suggests so, as do frequent cuts to Cronenbergian animated sequences in which golden hair slithers through the bloody, slimy innards of … something. Or is that just a metaphor?
Why You Missed It
The latest from writer-director Bradley Rust Gray (The Exploding Girl) hit two U.S. theaters for two weeks.
Should You Keep Missing It?
Jack & Diane is one of those indies in which very little happens except for two attractive young people gazing at each other in close-up: photo-shoot mumblecore. While it has the elements to be a fascinating and provocative exploration of young women’s sexuality, etc. etc., the writing just isn’t there.
The problem is that Jack and Diane are the only characters on screen for most of the film, and they aren’t fleshed out. Jack has a trauma in her past, and something’s clearly wrong with Diane, but we never find out what. Things happen for no reason: Early on, for instance, Jack is nearly run over, which leaves her with a blood-caked facial wound for the rest of the film. Symbolically, this must have something to do with Diane’s fantasies of eating Jack alive, but it’s just kind of … there. The imagery doesn’t feed into a drama, and when Gray makes gestures in the direction of narrative, like a subplot involving internet porn, they never make much sense or go anywhere.
Temple also starred in the last DVD I reviewed in 2012 — Killer Joe — and she’s memorably strange in both movies, like a potentially homicidal Lolita who might just also be a space alien. I haven’t seen her in any film where she wasn’t strange. An actress to watch, but maybe not in this movie.
Verdict: For lovers of slow-paced lesbian romances with lots of quirk, Jack & Diane could fit the bill. If the werewolf angle is what interests you, you’re better off revisiting Ginger Snaps.
More New DVDs
“Archer,” season 3
“Enlightened,” Season 1
Game Change (Julianne Moore plays Sarah Palin)
Guns, Girls and Gambling (Gary Oldman, Christian Slater, and Dane Cook in an action-comedy)
“The Hour,” season 2
The Inbetweeners Movie (Dorky teen boys on the make in an adaptation of the Brit comedy series.)
Now Is Good (Dakota Fanning as a dying teen)
Seal Team Six: Raid on Osama bin Laden (That other fictional version — with Cam Gigandet!)
Sleep Tight (Spanish thriller about a doorman tormenting a tenant in his building.)
Stolen (Nicolas Cage reteams with the director of Con Air)
The Wise Kids (coming-of-age tale set at a Baptist church)
Each week in "Movies You Missed," I review a brand-new DVD release picked for me by Seth Jarvis, buyer for Burlington's Waterfront Video, where you can obtain these fine films. (In central Vermont, try Downstairs Video.)