Artist-turned-director John Maybury set out to make a film that defies typical genre classification. He knows that films can mean different things to different people, so the fact that The Jacket can't be easily pigeonholed is a large part of its appeal. He playfully dances along the boundaries between experimental and mainstream filmmaking, resulting in a delectable balance of style and substance. It's a love story and a murder mystery, but its science-fiction backbone never quite let's us feel comfortable with anything we see because we know that at any moment the rug of reality can and will be pulled out from under us.
The film begins in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War where we meet Jack Starks, a soldier who receives a near-fatal gunshot would to the head. He eventually recovers, but the wound leaves him with severe retrograde amnesia and a nasty case of shock-related trauma.
Upon his discharge from the military, Jack returns to his native Vermont where he hopes to resume a peaceful civilian life. Unfortunately his world is shattered when he awakens in a psychiatric hospital blamed for a cop's murder he doesn't remember committing.
The next thing he knows, Jack's being sedated, strapped into a straight jacket, and shoved into the hospital's morgue drawer. His caregivers at the hospital are a curious bunch of doctors, technicians and orderlies who seem to neither care about his well-being nor know about proper hospital care.
This cuckoo's nest of characters at the hospital consists of Dr. Becker (Kris Kristofferson) a bona fide mad scientist, Dr. Lorenson (Jennifer Jason Leigh), his somewhat more caring but equally neglectful sidekick, and Mackenzie (Daniel Craig), a fellow patient who ironically is more approachable than the doctors. Jack soon learns that he is the subject of a series of radical psychological experiments. Every time he is drugged and brutally shoved into the drawer, he can see the future where he meets and falls in love with the beautiful but equally lonely Jackie (Keira Knightley). As Jack crosses back and forth across these timelines, he realizes that not only can he control his own mortal destiny, but he also might be able to bring justice to the rogue physician and his band of neglectful cohorts.
Maybury's art background is clearly evident in the way he handles the visual aspects of the film. Especially his camera work. The camera pauses on faces for long periods of time allowing us to contemplate the characters' mindset. The camera zooms in so close as to fill the screen with a single pair of eyes or a single mouth. He puts us inside the shell-shocked psyche of a veteran who was placed inside a mental institution when he's not insane. This intimacy with the subject matter allows the audience to connect with the characters on a level much higher than what can be obtained by dialogue alone. Although the story unwinds at a slow, deliberate pace, we realize that Maybury is simply giving the characters ample space to live and breathe. And Brody and Knightley take full advantage of the director's love for their talents.
Jack and Jackie make an almost instant connection from the moment they first see each other. The audience senses a genuine spark between the pair that transcends the movie screen. Credit this to the talents of Brody and Knightley. Knightley's Jackie is a wounded soul who drinks too much and carries a ton of guilt from the death of her mother. Naturally, the two find a way to care for each other while trying to forget their past. They see their relationship as a way to start over.
The Jacket is a lot of fun to watch. But like last year's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind it takes some work on the part of the viewer. Its constantly changing timeline, loud techno soundtrack, and visual drop-ins keep the audience slightly off balance, making The Jacket a sometimes frightening, sometimes confusing, but always fulfilling thrill ride.
Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1
Subtitles: English; Spanish; French; Closed Captioned
Language and Sound: English: DTS 5.1 Surround; French-Canadian: DTS 5.1 Surround
Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; deleted scenes; alternate ending; featurette.
o The Jacket: Project History and Deleted Scenes.
o The Look of The Jacket.
* Deleted Scenes - Deleted scenes are included in the featurette The Jacket: Project History and Deleted Scenes.
* Alternate Ending - Three alternate endings are included in The Jacket: Project History and Deleted Scenes.
* Trailers - Original theatrical trailer.
Number of discs: 1 - Keepcase packaging.
Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites