Saturday, 21 July 2018

A Kid Like Jake: NZIFF Review

A Kid Like Jake: NZIFF Review

Wisely steering clear of the hysterics that could come from a drama of trying to place a child in a school that's best for them, director Silas Howard's film version of Daniel Pearle's play is a piece that keeps itself grounded throughout.

Claire Danes and Jim Parsons play parents Alex and Greg, who seem diametrically opposed to their parenting approach - she's uptight, and almost neurotic in his eyes and he's indifferent and calm, to the point of comatose in hers.

Issues are further complicated by their son Jake whose desires extend to cross-dressing, a Disney princess obsession and long tresses as well as dresses which is causing problems when trying to pigeon hole him for future schools.
A Kid Like Jake: NZIFF Review

Inevitably, conflict arises as the parents find the pull of the familial sending them to places they'd not expected to go.

Imbued with a degree of WASP-ish indifference, it's hard to care really about the problems these guys face, something which would usually prove fatal to a drama. But by keeping everything grounded, Howard's manipulation of his actors and their commitment to the cause offers up more than just an insight into parenting choice, but also the deepest of human foibles and trivialities.

As Danes ratchets up the control-freakery, Parsons' laid-back approach threatens to derail everything - this at-times kitchen sink drama does inevitably boil over in one mightily familiar scene to many (parents or otherwise) but rarely, unfortunately, transcends its play-like setting.

However, it scores highly for its common touch, its exploration of doubt and its desire to avoid throwing the kid Jake into the middle; smartly, this works when it should and only occasionally teeters.

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