Jasper Jones

March 6, 2017

Image: The Reel World

I was thrilled to be invited to one of my favourite boutique cinemas, the newly refurbished Blue Room Cinebar in Rosalie, to view the new film -‘Jasper Jones’. The latest book to be adapted for the big screen, ‘Jasper Jones’ has been described as Australia’s answer to ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. Written by Craig Silvey, Jasper Jones is a thrilling coming of age story set in the sleepy town of Corrigan in the 1960’s. The movie boasts a stellar cast including Toni Collette, Hugo Weaving, Dan Wyllie, Angourie Rice, Aaron McGrath and Brisbane’s own Levi Miller, who plays the lead role of Charlie Bucktin. Rachel Perkins directed this Australian mystery/drama.

Behind the Film

‘Jasper Jones’ was filmed in Australia with the small Western Australian town of Pemberton posing as the fictional town of Corrigan. The locals played extras and were excited to be part of the project. Set in 1969 this film brought back memories for me of growing up in this era  in a small town Australia, where everyone knew everyone but no one knew what was going on behind closed doors. The props from the era were familiar and provided authenticity. The  local townspeople of Pemberton even loaned their vintage cars which are a highlight.

The Story

Jasper Jones (an outcast and scapegoat of  the town) enlists the bookish, but clever, Charlie Bucktin to solve a mystery one hot summer’s evening. All signs point to something sinister about the eccentric recluse Mad Jack Lionel (Hugo Weaving). I would’ve loved to have seen a bit more of Weaving’s character.

The film tells the story of Charlie’s investigation. Yet throughout  the film are intertwined stories of small town prejudices – towards Charlie’s friend Jeffrey and his family who are Asian (living here at the time of the Vietnam War), through to tension in the marriage of Charlie’s parent’s, played beautifully by Toni Collette and Dan Wyllie (who incidentally were brother and sister in Muriel’s Wedding), through corporal punishment for children of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, to the thralls of first love with the story leading us off into ever more sinister developments.

The audience loved the character of Jeffrey, who lightened the tension and is a talent to watch out for in the future. This film encouraged us to talk long after the movie was over about prejudice and racial tension which are still found in the world today. The cinematography, especially in the opening scenes, was beautiful and captured the mood and your attention perfectly.

I hadn’t known what to expect from ‘Jasper Jones’.  In my head it was a movie for teenagers but some of the themes explored were very adult so it would best suit older teens. The storyline managed to keep me guessing until the end. I will need to read the bestselling novel now to see how it compares to the movie. For a child of the ‘60’s like me, it was very real from the norms of society at that time through to the props, costuming and characters (can Toni Collette please give my Mum’s 60’s hairdo and wardrobe back). Ultimately though ‘Jasper Jones’ is  a story about finding your courage in uncertain times. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you will gasp in shock. ‘Jasper Jones’ is IN CINEMAS NOW.

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