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Tribeca 2012: Jack and Diane

The 2012 Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 18th to April 29th. Jeff Hart and Jeremiah White are there and will be seeing a shitload of movies.

Diane (Juno Temple) is a space-cadet would be fashion student visiting New York who falls head-over-heels for bad-girl skateboard and walkman enthusiast Jack (Riley Keough). Feverish make-out sessions and gushy teenage over-shares ensue, until Diane starts getting nosebleeds and sporadically turning into a cannibalistic mummy-dog monster.

Because a sometimes pitch-perfect telling of a lesbian romance between two teenagers struggling with identity issues was apparently not unique enough, Jack and Diane director Bradley Rust Gray forces his first love flick into genre contortions by including a series of needless monster movie interludes. I’m all for stretching genre when it makes sense and serves the story, but Jack and Diane’s goofy feelings-muppet is a raging beast of an overt symbol and really nothing more.

It doesn’t stop at the monster-as-manifestation-for-the-uncertainty-of-love either, with Gray pushing the symbolism envelope as far as he can with ample meaningful music cues and a scene where a tasty human heart is munched after it’s yanked fully formed from a vagina. First semester film students should really eat this up; it’ll be super easy to construct a 3-5 page response paper around.

It’s sort of a shame that Gray hits so repeatedly on the nose, because the more realistic love story elements of Jack and Diane often hit home. Although former Vogue model Keough has some difficulty settling into the butch haircut and put-on toughness of Jack, that she’s a bit ill-at-ease in the character actually, and perhaps unintentionally, helps her mine some vulnerability that makes Jack more likable. Together with Temple whose wide-eyed and wounded performance needs no caveats, there’s enough chemistry to create a halfway decent love story.

Scenes of Jack and Diane just being normal and awkward girls on a new-love bender – sneaking into clubs, making unsupervised messes, sharing meaningful secrets perhaps too soon – have a sweet ring of truth to them. If allowed to exist on their own, these scenes might’ve approached the levels of DEEP and PROFOUND that Gray so cheaply aspires to with his monster movie bullshit. Unfortunately, what’s good about Jack and Diane is gobbled up by shoddy creature effects and hackneyed symbolism.

VERDICT:  Skip it.

Ahhhh, young love.

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