Directed by: JOHN MAYBURY
Starring: ADRIEN BRODY, KEIRA KNIGHTLEY, KRIS KIRSTOFFERSON,
JENNIFER JASON LEIGH, DANIEL CRAIG
Released by: Warner Independent
Short: Oscar winner Adrien Brody stars in
this sort-of thriller with shades of “Memento.”
It’s masterful but puzzling filmmaking.
Little "Too-Straight" Jacket
Scary Film That Doesn't Quite Bind Us
is much to admire about “The Jacket.” The
Oscar-winning Adrien Brody puts his hangdog looks to excellent
use as Jack Starks, a Gulf War veteran institutionalized
for post-traumatic stress disorder. In a mental hospital
in perpetually snowy Vermont, his doctors (read: captors)
use the questionable practice of wrapping him in a straitjacket
and stowing him in a morgue drawer for hours at a time.
While inside, he experiences flashbacks – and flash-forwards
– all presented in a style that make us jolt and
occasionally cover our eyes.
said, if you’re a fan of scary, scary movies (as
advertised in the film’s trailers), you’ll
be disappointed. Without giving the plot away, what starts
out as a punch-to-the-gut thriller devolves into a clichéd
time-travel melodrama. True, some scenes are – how
should we put this? – yikes!, but we went in expecting
to have our minds blown, and they were not. Thoroughly
shampooed, maybe with a nice rinse job, but not blown.
director John Maybury has a background in experimental
film and music videos, and techniques borrowed from those
genres – jump cuts, flashes on distorted images
and often grisly visual effects – serve the film
well. The actors, too, put in good work. In addition to
the always riveting Brody, there’s Jennifer Jason
Leigh as a sympathetic shrink, Kris Kristofferson as a
glowering, evil shrink and Keira Knightley (“Pirates
of the Caribbean”) as a key player in Jack's
flashbacks. Daniel Craig gives an arresting, wide-eyed
cameo as Jack’s fellow patient in the mental hospital.
we leave the theater wondering whether the story has any
significance to our lives, or for that matter, why this
film needed to be made. As much as we admire the filmmaking,
that question has us bound up for a long while.