Jump, Darling (2020) Review: A Heartwarming Look at Intergenerational Empathy (Written by Anna Miller)
Jump, Darling, is a drama film out of Canada and directed by Phil Connell; it premiered in 2020, headlining the Inside Out film festival. It stars Thomas Duplessie as Russell, a rookie drag queen dealing with the aftermath of a breakup, while simultaneously finds an escape in taking care of his declining grandmother out in the country. The Grandmother, Margaret, is played by Cloris Leachman, who gives a captivating final performance of her career, as she sadly passed away earlier this year.
Through his writing and directing, Connell achieves a tone that is tenderly crafted and maintained throughout the runtime, without falter. There is a sense of intergenerational understanding and a parallel between the troubles each is facing as well as the empathy specifically Russell and Margaret feel for each other, despite their significant age gap. It is a fresh situation to see play out, as it could have easily fallen into a common story trope of clashing generations-- the eye-rolls from the senior and the "you just don\"t understand"s from the subordinate... But, refreshingly, there is but very little of such thing at all.
Instead, these two particular characters find and connect with one another in their time of struggle, and come out on the other side a different person because of each other. Both are finding the courage to be true to themselves and stand up for what they want out of life, and although their situations are on quite opposite ends of the spectrum, in the end, it is simply a story of human growth and "coming of age" no matter how old you may be.
Jump, Darling contains not only vulnerable and honest performances but uses camerawork and great music to drive the story further. In keeping with the lively tone of the drag scene, the music and performances drive home the message of the film and give the tone a boost of optimism, joy, and freedom. Duplessie, despite never having done drag before, gives absolutely incredible performances in dancing and lip-syncing on top of carrying the film as one of the main leads.
This is all heightened by careful camerawork and cinematography, which truly manipulates the tone as its own instrument; expressing to the viewer how they should be feeling at any particular point in time, without being gauche about it. There are shots of characters in dark alleyways, backlit by neon, wide shots of country grass lawns, and dimly lit shots of family members having hushed conversations in the kitchen. They feel real, raw, and true, which earns the film even more approbation.
Ultimately, this is an endearing film with authentic performances, a tonally cohesive story and the ability to pull at your heartstrings and as a viewer, come out impacted by the stories of both Russell and Margaret. Its lively, joyful, profound and refreshing, and stands as a great flick to curl up on a couch with.
Jump, Darling gets a 3.5/5!
Special thanks to Route504 for providing us with a review copy!