King Jack stars Charlie Plummer (Granite Flats, Boardwalk Empire), Cory Nichols (The Mend), Christian Madsen (Divergent, Palo Alto), Danny Flaherty (The Wolf of Wall Street, Hope Springs) and is written and directed by Felix Thompson making his feature film debut.
Jack (Plummer) is a teenage boy living with his mother and older brother. When his aunt becomes ill, his younger cousin Ben (Nichols), stays with him over the weekend despite Jack’s wishes. Jack then includes Ben into his life involving bullies, girls and the struggles of growing up.
I love Coming of Age films, it might be my favorite genre and I usually like most films in the genre. Over the last few years some of my favorite films have been Mud, The Way, Way Back, Kings of Summer and some of my all time favorites include Stand by Me and The Breakfast Club. So with that said whenever there’s a new Coming of Age film I’m always excited to see it, I heard about King Jack and was very intrigued. Now that I’ve seen the film I actually didn’t like it and was left disappointed.
The film isn’t all bad and the main aspect that kept me going throughout the short run time, was the lead performance from Charlie Plummer. He is fantastic and has a huge career ahead of him. He hits every level of being a teenage from the awkwardness, wonder, freedom and most importantly the brutal emotional damage from being bullied. The other performances are fine but Charlie Plummer shines in this film and is definitely one to look out for in the future.
King Jack looks beautiful. This is a harsh film but the cinematography balances out the harsh nature of the film, with vibrant, colorful imagery. There’s something about indie cinematography that has such warmth too it, that captivates you and keeps you happy despite the horrible circumstances. The framing of shots are used so well to invoke the emotion felt in a scene, like Jack and his cousin hiding under a car and the bottom of it is pushing them down, creating a sense of fear and entrapment. Although I didn’t particularly like this film, I think the director Felix Thompson like Plummer, has a promising future.
I mention at the start of this review, a few of my favorite Coming of Age films and I realised the ones I connect to the most, are the ones that have more of a fantasy or Hollywood style to them. I don’t however find any enjoyment watching the ones that are really dark and very real. King Jack for me was not a fun film to watch because it didn’t hold back or pull punches and was honest in the way it told it’s story. A lot of times that would be a huge compliment and if that’s more your style of film, you’ll probably love this one. But for me I had a similar experience watching this as I did to watching films like Kids and Fish Tank. It’s brutal and left me feeling depressed and hopeless, when I think it was actually trying to do the opposite.
The run time for King Jack is only 80 minutes. So often films over stay their welcome but I thought King Jack didn’t stay long enough, to add more to its characters and story. For example they hint at why a certain bully is bullying Jack but it never goes the extra step further to delve into that more. In so many of these films the bully is seen as just a villain, not that bullying is ever acceptable but it would have been fascinating to dig deeper into why a bully becomes a bully, which is something you never see explored. I thought every character (other than Jack) were underdeveloped and could have been fleshed out more.
Speaking of the bullies, there are three main ones bullying Jack and they all looked about 30. They were supposed to be a couple of years older than him, no more than 18 but they were clearly full grown adults. It’s a minor complaint but they play a big part in the film and it annoyed me every time they were on screen.
I really wanted to love this film and was expecting to going in but unfortunately for me it wasn’t a pleasant experience. I think you’ll probably know if this films for you and I can understand why it’s getting rave reviews and has one awards at festivals. For me however it is a film I’ll never watch again and don’t really want to think about either.
Have you seen King Jack and what’s your favorite Coming of Age film?