Jack And Diane
Bradley Rust Gray’s follow-up to his 2009 film-fest fave "The Exploding Girl," "Jack & Diane," is a thoughtful, meditative, sometimes crazy exploration of first love. When British bohemian Diane (Juno Temple), visiting an aunt (Cara Seymour) in New York City, meets Jack (Riley Keough), a butch skateboarder, romance buds. They spend days coming together, pulling apart and fumbling toward ecstasy. Threatening to disrupt the budding romance, however, is a beast that lurks in Diane’s heart and grows more powerful as her feelings do.
There’s a believable bond between these characters (who are entirely separate from the John Cougar Mellencamp song of the same name); despite being dissimilar in personality and background. Both Jack and Diane are unique and relatable without being "quirky" or standardized hipsters-to-be.
With her expressive face and vulnerable presence, the waifish Temple adds another ballsy performance to her already impressive list of credits, (which include "Atonement," "Kaboom, the underrated "Cracks" and "xxx). And the unrecognizable Keough is boyish but feminine, tough, not hard, as her girlfriend. It seems to follow then that when they squabble over seeming nothing that they’ll come back together - it’s their destiny.
The film is a lovely, reflective look at a heightened time in a teenager’s life, which is enhanced by a playful score by múm, an experimental electronic ambient group from Iceland. Kylie Minogue even makes a brief appearance as a tattooed, older rocker-chick lover of Jack’s. Looking different from the glamor gal we’re used to seeing, you likely won’t even recognize her. She’s impressive, especially considering how small her role turns out to be.
The biggest weaknesses, which really don’t undermine the strength of the film, are some odd shifts in time. At one point it appears they’ve spent an entire night in a club. And there are some odd lapses in logic. For instance, would someone really keep a key on the floor outside a New York City apartment?
Another issue is the lycanthropic transformation of Diane’s coming to terms with her sexuality (a la "Ginger Snaps") is startling when is happens, but doesn’t necessarily add depth to the story or to Diane’s journey. It’s startling when it rears a hairy, snarling head, but it’s also incongruous with the tone of the rest of the film; but, in all fairness, that may be the point.
Those are minor quibbles, though, for such an unconventional look at love, "Jack & Diane" at least attempts to find a truth in love and loss and growing up that most Hollywood films wouldn’t even acknowledge, which makes it a success for both lovers of film and lovers of love.