BFI Flare presents Jump, Darling arriving in selected theatres on March 11th 2022.
The suicide of a loved one leaves a lasting, painful mark, no matter how long ago it took place. Sometimes the life of that loved one remains shrouded in mystery, the memories associated with their passing too painful for words due to unresolved guilt or confusion among those they left behind. Even as time goes by and the past becomes a story, their death continues to cast a shadow. Philip J. Connell’s assured feature debut not only tackles these delicate and sensitive issues with care but wraps them in a touching and engaging story of love, loss, endings and new beginnings.
Russell (Thomas Duplessie) has just left his long term boyfriend after a disagreement on his artistic direction and career as a struggling actor – his drag creation of ‘Fishy Falters’ at the heart of the conflict. So armed with just a few bags, no money and a couple of bottles of scotch, Russell heads out of Toronto and into the Canadian countryside. His destination is his grandmother’s house, where a car owned by his late grandfather awaits his arrival. Russell’s plan is simple, collect the car and drive as far away from his previous life as possible, leaving behind his boyfriend, ‘Fishy Falters’ and his old city life.
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However, on arrival, Russell finds his grandmother (Cloris Leachman) frail, with her memory fading in and out of the past and present. Meanwhile, the house around her slips into disrepair as she struggles to clean, cook and take care of her sprawling home. Of course, Margaret isn’t alone, as Russell’s mother (Linda Kash) visits once a week, trying to persuade her mum to move into a residential home. But all the same, Russell can’t help but feel guilty about the lack of attention he has paid to his grandmother during his city life. Therefore, he adjusts his plans and agrees to stay with the feisty Margaret for a few days before embarking on his road trip.
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However, Russell’s plans are soon pushed back after bonding with his Grandmother and meeting a man at a local bar. Meanwhile, the unspoken pain of his grandfather’s suicide many years before bubbles to the surface as Russell faces his own demons and doubts with the support of a woman who has no intention of giving up her last years of independence.
Connell’s film is wrapped in the complexity of the sudden junctions that appear in our life when we least expect them. Some of these junctions are easy to navigate, but others ofter multiple routes clouded by uncertainty – the outcome of our choice uncertain and unclear until days, months or years later. However, despite the complexity of the themes and issues presented in Jump, Darling, Connell’s movie is far from being heavy in atmosphere. Instead, we are offered a funny, tender and light film that wraps you in a blanket of warmth and safety through the exceptional performances of Duplessie and Leachman.
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At this point, let me pause to reflect on the fact that Jump, Darling is Cloris Leachman’s final on-screen performance. It is hard to believe that Leachman was in her 90s during filming as her eyes sparkle with the wit, beauty and brilliance of her extraordinary and majestic career. Here her on-screen presence is just as commanding as ever, as she steals the show alongside the equally brilliant Thomas Duplessie. This pair truly strikes gold, their heartwarming relationship believable and sincere throughout.
Meanwhile, Jump, Darling’s sublime score ripples with the energy of a host of pop classics. At the same time, its delightful cinematography is bathed in vibrant colour. The result is a bold, fresh and beautiful exploration of family, secrets, rebirth and closure that stays with you long after the credits have rolled. But its also a beautiful final curtain call for a true legend of TV and film and passionate LGBTQ+ ally.
Despite the complexity of the themes and issues presented in Jump, Darling, Connell’s movie is far from being heavy in atmosphere. Instead, we are offered a funny, tender and light film that wraps you in a blanket of warmth and safety through the exceptional performances of Duplessie and Leachman.