BFI Flare 2021 ‘Jump Darling’ Review: Cloris Leachman’s Final Role is Amongst Her Best!

Russell (Thomas Duplessie) is a struggling actor turned drag artist stays with grandmother who is fighting to remain independent. As he reels from a nasty breakup and a disappointing career, he bonds with his grandmother Margaret (Cloris Leachman) who’s health is failing and is facing the threat of institutionalisation. Both unsure of the future, they bond over a shared feeling of being alone in this world, albeit from opposite sides of their stories.

Although each involving, there are long stretches where the two threads of the story don’t quite come together. The film is at it’s best when it explores the idea of a cross dimensional discontent and an earnest need for Margaret to not allow her tragic past to repeat itself. Cloris Leachman steals the show as the proud but frail old fighter who quietly understands her grandson’s desperation and carries more sorrow than he could know.

This is not a conventional generational difference narrative of a grandmother gradually accepting her grandchild’s bold new ways. Margaret understands and supports her grandson already. The drama between them comes from differing perspectives and the film is at its best when the two are communicating their experiences with each other. Had the film felt more like their personas were intermingling and bonding, the film would have been more effectively moving.

It all comes together quite well in the climax where an opportunity for the broken dreams of the past to be resurrected by the young is realised. Today’s youth enjoys freedoms that are at once alienating and overwhelming but which defy the expectations and limitations placed upon our grandparents. It’s a wonderful conclusion, that I just wish had been earned a little better along the way.

Four Stars


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