Sunday, 27 September 2009

Film Ramble: The Jacket

If Kurt Vonnegut had ever written a mainstream Hollywood movie then it might have turned out something like The Jacket. Slaughterhouse Five is one obvious jumping off point for a plot that sees Adrien Brody's damaged Gulf War vet end up in an asylum after being wrongly accused of murder, and then coming unstuck in time thanks to some deeply unorthodox treatment. Another is Jacob's Ladder, and yet another is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The fact that The Jacket can stand up to all of those comparisons without embarrassment, and without seeming derivative, is a fair mark of how good it is.

It's pretty obvious that Warner Bros. had no idea at all what to do with it from the tag line, "TERROR HAS A NEW NAME" - although I guess they showed restraint in leaving off the exclamation mark. The Jacket never stood much chance of being appreciated for what it really is - not a horror movie (although if you're claustrophobic you'll probably pee your pants) but a smart mishmash of genres: horror yes, but also science-fiction, social commentary, crime, and romance. It spins around a small handful of beautiful, primal concepts, and a handful of great performances - Brody is downright excellent, a completely charming cypher, and Keira Knightley turns in probably the only genuinely good acting of her career. It's clever, strange, touching and downright unnerving, and it should have reached a whole lot more people than it did.

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