Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Jake: Movie Review

Jake: Movie Review

Cast: Jason Fitch, Leighton Cardno, Anoushka Klaus
Director: Doug Dillaman

That this self-funded Kiwi film has made it into cinemas is in no part a small minor miracle and reflection on the passion of those involved.

It's the story of Jacob (Fitch), a feckless guy who's wasting his life. But that all changes one day, when he awakes to find he's been "recast" by a mysterious entity known as the Forge after they've decided he's squandering his life.

So, in his place, is Jake (Cardno), a more charismatic lively chap who seizes the opportunity he's been given and relegates the real Jacob into second place in his own life. To make matters worse, and to his own suffering, Jacob's friends and family don't recognise him. And Jacob becomes determined to spring into a life less lived when Jake makes a go of it with his girlfriend.

Can the man relegated to the sidelines of his own life rise to the challenge presented to him?


Jake has an engaging dystopian idea at its lo-fi heart; a concept which sounds almost Tales of The Unexpected with parallels of NZ TV show This Is Not My Life thrown in for good measure. As the tale spins out, the passion of all involved shines through.

Fitch and Cardno make a great pair as the yin and yang of the concept of Jacob / Jake and manage to ground this idea in a reality that seems relatable in a world where many struggle with questions of identity / the grass is always greener on the other side as we go about our humdrum lives.

Occasional over-acting from some of the cast (Jacob's mother in particular) leads to meta-questions about whether they've been recast from within (and at times distracts from the story) as this offbeat, off-kilter drama heads inexorably to its dramatic conclusion.

All in all, the can-do attitude and self-funded nature of this film shouldn't be confused for cinematic chutzpah and token sympathy; Jake is an astonishingly assured long form debut from writer / director Dillaman and the team involved, a sign that Kiwi cinema is in rude health and that the budget is no confines for dreaming big in terms of ideas without ever losing sight of the emotional core needed to engage the audience.


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