Jack and Diane (R)

Drama 110 November 2, 2012
By Nick Schager
Equating teens with animals has long been a handy horror-cinema way to tackle pubescent sexual development. So with its most attention-grabbing element relegated to been-there, done-that status, the werewolf-themed Jack and Diane-- whose supernatural intimations are treated in purely metaphoric, not literal, fashion—has little new to offer other than a coming-of-age lesbian romance of a distinctly precious, nostalgia-filtered sort. Writer/director Bradley Rust Gray focuses on young people whose social disconnection manifests itself in awkward face-to-face and cellular communication, with Diane (Juno Temple) and Jack (Riley Keough) given to halting, ineloquent speech dominated by delayed responses and just-functional statements. Their sparks ignite almost as soon as Diane, bloody-nosed and in a Raggedy Ann dress, appears in a store where butch brunette Jack works. A touch of thighs and a glancing brush of a breast are all it takes to send the two to a nightclub where they sit in silence until consummating their attraction with a kiss-- a moment of ecstasy, but also of danger, as suggested by visual interludes that hint at an underlying, unstable animalism: hair slithering over and coiling around, muscle and flesh. When they stand at a kitchen counter, Keough in a Ministry T-shirt and Temple in a skanky-pixie yellow belly shirt, the contrast is so stark that it comes off as contrived. Although the leads have delinquent attitude to spare—most of it manifested during run-ins with Diane's aunt (Cara Seymour), who's ignored by Diane and taunted with come-ons by Jack-- neither is able to emote anything genuine with or without dialogue.
Bradley Rust Gray Juno Temple, Jena Malone, Riley Keough, Kylie Minogue, Leo Fitzpatrick, Haviland Morris, Cara Seymour, Dane DeHaan, Neal Huff, Michael Chernus Bradley Rust Gray Magnolia Pictures

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