UPDATED: Canadian Film Fest 2016: Jackie Boy
Jackie Boy will be having a one-week theatrical engagement May 5-11 at The Royal Cinema, 608 College St, Toronto.
There comes a time in most of our lives when we meet someone that will change the course we are on. Sometimes that person saves us from ourselves at the precise moment we need it. They can make us examine the path we’ve been on and the consequences of our destructive actions. Director Cody Campanale’s Jackie Boy examines the cost of paying for past mistakes and being unable to emotionally process the difficult moments in our lives in this rough and gritty debut.
Jack (Alino Giraldi) is an emotionally-stunted womanizer who thrives on hook-ups and partying. He uses drugs, alcohol, and promiscuous sex to numb himself. His best friends Kal (Edward Charette) and Tony (Andrew Di Rosa) are eager to follow, enjoying not growing up and becoming responsible adults. One night during a party, Jack meets Sasha (Chloe Van Landschoot) and brings her home for a night of drunken sex. After a heinous breach of Sasha’s privacy, Jack begins to wonder if maybe he’s gone too far. Soon after, he meets Jasmine (Shannon Coulter) who he quickly realizes is not like the girls he normally dates. She has no problem standing up to his attitude and is seemingly impervious to his seductions. Jack begins to realize that this woman is forcing him to examine himself and that she has the potential of making him a better man. However, as Jasmine becomes hesitant to get close to him, it becomes apparent that she has ulterior motives. As the relationship builds and Jack’s friends feel abandoned by his changed attitude, the story comes to a surprising climax that swirls with questions of loyalty, protection of the ones you care about, and what could be considered an ultimate act of redemption.
There are many thematic elements at play in this film that give it a rich complexity. It looks at the bonds of friendship and what happens when that trust is broken, revenge in the face of betrayal, and in some respects it’s reflective of an element of today’s culture in which vanity and promiscuity is the norm. At its core it could be considered an examination of what happens when we are unable to emotionally understand and accept the harsh realities that life sometimes dishes out and the destructive consequences that can occur as a result.
The instability of these characters is felt right from the outset. We are urgently thrown into their dangerous world of reckless behaviour and this uneasiness comes from probably two of the strongest elements of the film, the production design effort by Guy Dube and the camera work of cinematographer Jason Tan. We are visually immersed in the setting of this story and through the hand-held camera we feel very much a part of what is happening. The immediacy of establishing this world sets a strong foundation on which this story plays out.
As unnerving as it at times, pushing Jack into a deeper pit of out of control self-destruction and despair could have led to an even stronger visceral reaction to this world, which is the kind of feeling desired for a film like this. In addition, the stylistic choice of minimalistic dialogue and moments of quietness seem to slow down the pace and urgency. A stronger backstory of the events that led Jack to this point in his life would have also served the film well. This comes from the common challenge of writing a second act that continues to drive the story forward without losing its momentum. The overall experience could have been improved by sustaining the tone set at the beginning.
However, given that this is a first-time effort, tremendous promise has been shown by this filmmaking team. The director has shown he is capable of pulling out nuanced, realistic performances from his actors which will certainly serve him well on future projects. Improvements to the less successful elements of the film will come from experience and continuing to develop his skills. A mark of a successful film is one that resolves the story yet at the same time leaves us with lingering questions that make us ponder our own actions and relationships. Jackie Boy is one such example that has managed to achieve this.
Jackie Boy will be having a limited one-week theatrical engagement at the Royal Cinema at 608 College St. in Toronto from May 5-11. The showtimes are as follows:
Advance tickets for the screenings can be purchased here.