Jamie Marks Is Dead (NR)

Drama 100 min. August 19, 2014
By Aaron Hillis
Supernatural teen angst and romance are in the chilly air of fashion photographer–turned-filmmaker Carter Smith's (The Ruins) brooding and mostly naturalistic psychodrama, ripped from the pages of Christopher Barzak's young-adult novel One for Sorrow. The naked corpse of Jamie Marks (Noah Silver, looking like Harry Potter's sinister doppelgänger) is found under a creek bridge in upstate New York, stumbled upon by rock-collecting loner Gracie (Homeland's Morgan Saylor). Also profoundly affected: Adam (Shameless's Cameron Monaghan), a stoic ginger and cross-country track star who witnessed his teammates bullying Jamie but never stepped up to befriend or defend him. Brought together by their mutual empathy and other heightened coming-of-age emotions, Gracie and mostly Adam begin seeing and interacting with Jamie's increasingly ubiquitous ghost, who wants help getting out of purgatory -- but how?

Like a murder mystery with no murderer (minus an underdeveloped subplot with a terrifying, parent-slaying ghost that teeters on flat-out horror), the film uses its phantasmagoric conceit, sickly-hued poetry, and eerie sound design to build metaphors for closeted homoeroticism and melancholic unfulfillment. Like many adaptations, however, there are too many vaguely defined interpersonal dynamics and marginal characters (hi, Liv Tyler and Judy Greer!) that distract needlessly from the earnest tone of an outrageous setup.
Carter Smith Liv Tyler, Judy Greer, Morgan Saylor, Cameron Monaghan, Madisen Beaty, Erin Wilhelmi, Lizzy DeClement, Brett DelBuono, Noah Silver Christopher Barzak Gravitas Ventures


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