The Jacket (15)
<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5Rate this
Time Out saysLike many projects seemingly made in heaven, experimental English director John Maybury’s first US outing looked far too interesting to possibly turn out well. You could see why the Clooney-Soderbergh producing outfit had been impressed by Maybury’s last film; his Francis Bacon biopic ‘Love Is the Devil’ had highlighted his individualistic visual flair, sympathetic direction of actors, comfort with the perverse, and superb tonal control. Massy Tadjedin’s (overly) ambitious, demanding screenplay for ‘The Jacket’ – an extremist, time-travelling, psychological horror, with Adrien Brody’s amnesiac Gulf War vet subjected to mental and existential torture by Kris Kristofferson’s deformed hospital doctor – must have looked perfect for Maybury’s empathetic style and expressionist visual skills. In the event, the film is an interesting failure, a barely cohering series of episodes of differing moods and textures, a mess composed of impressive bits and shards.
It’s a great shame. Maybury rises to the film’s contrasts. The opening – where Brody is brain-damaged by a gun-shot from an Iraqi boy – is rendered in night(mare) vision washes and graphics; later in leafy Vermont, where Brody meets a young incarnation of the girl (Keira Knightley) with whom he is to fall in love, Maybury achieves a sweet, emotionally attentive atmosphere reminiscent of Atom Egoyan’s ‘The Sweet Hereafter’. Similarly, the trauma of the drug-induced aural/visual assault that Brody goes through in the ‘Shock Corridor’-style hospital gives way to a soft ambience of slacker romance as he passes through a time-gate. Is all this meant as (religious) metaphor? Who knows? Maybury plays it all as realism, inducing a critical suspension of belief. Better luck next time.
Fri May 13 2005