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  Jack and Diane Passionate Friends
Year: 2012
Director: Bradley Rust Gray
Stars: Juno Temple, Riley Keough, Cara Seymour, Kylie Minogue, Dane DeHaan, Michael Chernus, Neal Huff, Haviland Morris, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jen Ponton
Genre: Romance, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Diane (Juno Temple) is a little lost. She's looking for her sister who ought to be able to tell her where she is meant to be going, that is to her aunt's apartment in Brooklyn since they have both just arrived in the country from their native England, but Diane has lost her phone and nobody she talks to on the street is willing to offer her a free call to contact someone who knows where she is supposed to be. Eventually after a lot of fruitless wandering around, she enters a shop and asks to use the phone, but the owner behind the counter is less than accomodating - then suddenly someone emerges from the back room of the premises and Diane is immediately intrigued.

That someone is Jack, who unlike the John Mellancamp song this was somewhat bafflingly named after was not a boy growing up in the American heartland but a teenage lesbian, who happened to be played by Riley Keough, granddaughter of the King of Rock 'n' Roll, Elvis Presley in one of her first major acting roles. Funnily enough, this was not what the interest generated by the movie orbited around, as the most anticipation was down to watching a horror movie about gay teen girl werewolves, which was likely why it went down so badly with so many people. Far from being a traditional chiller, Jack and Diane was a tentative love story with weirdo asides, from animated inserts courtesy of cult filmmakers The Brothers Quay.

Their contribution may not have amounted to much screen time but it did add to the sense of something scary and primal rumbling under the drama as we watched dark braids slither over unidentifiable organs and innards, presumably a representation of what the two lead characters were feeling as they fumbled towards a romance. In the same manner, the werewolf parts were relegated to representational dream sequences, and none too many of them at that, with only three or so brief scenes depicting someone in a hairy, rubber suit attacking the girls, whereupon we're made aware that this is not actually happening and it's the turmoil of their vivid imaginations carrying them away. That said, the nosebleeds the emotions start in them did seem to be indicating more than actually played out.

In a horror movie approach, at any rate, so if this was not the gore-drenched supernatural thriller that so many wanted and did not get, what on earth was it? More of a muted relationship drama with woozy, dreamlike techniques, that's what, probably more satisfying to those who wished to see something out of the ordinary and not sticking to conventions, be they in the form of horror or even in the form of gay love yarns. Obviously writer and director Bradley Rust Gray was not even glancing towards the mainstream with Jack and Diane, yet for those with a taste for the... not quirky exactly, that adjective would sell the production short, but the outré perhaps, there was much to appreciate, not least in the sensitive and pointedly contrasting performances from Temple and Keough, though a publicity-courting appearance from Kylie Minogue may disappoint her fans.

Jack is well aware she is a lesbian and wastes no time in seducing the lost Diane in the nightclub she takes her to instead of escorting her to the home of Diane's Aunt Linda (Cara Seymour) where she is supposed to be, but that was not to say she was taking advantage of the British girl, as she (and we) can tell there's a mutual interest. One snog later, and they have clicked, though the sadness is that this is not a love to last, not a holiday fling because they really do connect, it's just that circumstances are never going to match them up even if they do keep in touch: in a matter of days, Diane has to leave for fashion school in Paris, France. This leads Jack to try and reject her to prevent any damage to her fragile soul (she tries to play it tough, but she's actually quite vulnerable), but Diane has gotten under her skin (is that what the Quay animations are?) and a series of seemingly inconsequential but sweetly portrayed encounters meander across the screen as a result, some more offbeat than others. This may not have been what most expected, but that was no reason to dismiss its charms.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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