FILM REVIEW: “Jasper Jones” – A common algorithm used correctly.


Jasper Jones followed the same great “Australian Algorithm of Internationally Acclaimed Movies”. Some well-known faces, emphasis on the landscape and brash humour however, Jasper Jones surprised me.

Its plot relied on Charlie and his search to find out about what really happened the night of Christmas Day. Levi Miller played his character with great success. He was able to express both Charlie’s naivety and his burden of knowing.

Toni Collette’s performance as his mother was one of her better performances. She had good chemistry with Levi Miller and had a frankness and concern that seemed realistic to her character.

The ending of the film had little satisfaction, as the only plot that closed was the main one. This may explain why the film promoted the Charlie “coming of age” storyline. Considering the themes and language of the film I found this surprising. It seems to be more appealing to people who grew up in the 60-70s, craving nostalgia of the good old days.

The pacing of the film was excellent with no seemingly irrelevant parts. If anything, there were elements I wanted more elaborated and reflected on in the film, such as Jasper’s newfound relationship with his Grandfather.

A factor I particularly liked about Jasper Jones is its emphasis on the location. Landscape is a prominent feature in Australian films and Jasper Jones is no exception. In this adaptation, the landscape was almost like a secondary character as it held the clues for Jasper and Charlie to find and express the mood of the scenes. For instance, the forest was a motif for Charlie facing the ‘unknown’ and finding courage like his favourite superhero, Batman.

To an extent, however I wish that there were more stories on Australians living in urban areas. Jasper Jones is not the only Australian film that presents Australia in this idle town living; films like the Dressmaker, Bran Nu Dae and Red Dog, which were released in international markets, set up a tale of the bush. The presentation of the mid-20th Century in Australia particularly has presented a series of protagonists living in small dry towns. In Jasper Jones, the only reference to the city was a means of escape for Jasper, and for Laura who saw it as a symbol of freedom. These films are some of the few images of Australia presented to an international market, enforcing stereotypes and “algorithm” as mentioned in our movie industry.

Nevertheless, Jasper Jones is one of the better styles of this genre with diverse characters and a clear intention to do something and interact with this common setting. It used this common style and improved on it. It had suspense mixed with the average life of the town folk but didn’t sensationalise the scandals. Instead, Rachel Perkins created a more human response, which completely engaged me.

Overall, the film establishes a beautiful rendition of the book Jasper Jones. It had a cast that worked well together, an engaging plot and realistic presentations of characters.

Words by Maria Dunne

Read Maria’s interview with director Rachel Perkins here.


Maria Dunne

Stefan Bradley
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