Directed by: Kevin Peters
Written by: Kevin Peters
Starring: Thomasin Lawson, Jay Adam, Anna MacArthur, Ed Atlas, Alex Ranahan and Mel Clarace
Short Film Review by: Dean Pettipher
Deep down, avid and even casual film lovers can often tell within minutes whether or not sincere passion lies at the core of the picture. Beyond the initial noting of fait but nonetheless clear aesthetic similarities to, for instance, Jessica Jones (2015 – Present), Kevin Peters has crafted a short, bittersweet masterpiece and leaves one craving for more. Indeed, one can tell with ease that Peters has spent much of his life playing in bands and recording music, for one gets the all but unquestionable sense that his has that rare ability as an excellent collaborator and leader to bring out the best in people. His latest movie, Jessica (2018), serves as important reminder that the serendipity so many long to experience in their pursuit of fulfilment through, for instance, romantic love, can, at least just occasionally, not be the answer one seeks.
The performances from each of the players are strong and compelling, particularly from Jay Adam, who possesses striking charisma not dissimilar to Miles Teller, which allows him to play the most unlikeable characters and still find the audience rooting for him. Here, though, Adam portrays a fully-fledged lead that audiences can find reasons to genuinely care about very quickly. Adam’s interactions with his fellow artists in front of the camera, including Thomasin Lawson and Anna MacArthur, are at times so engaging that they command audiences to believe in the ineffable qualities of their respective relationships and consequently despair when those relationships are tested towards unmanageable limits. More emotion could have been employed during the most dramatic moments of the movie to make them that much more convincing, to the extent where one feels as though the actors were holding back. However, just enough feeling is expressed to prevent the key turning points of the movie from falling flat after their impressive build-ups.
The camera work is superb, boasting of unpredictability akin to the greatest works of Edgar Wright, including Hot Fuzz (2007) and Baby Driver (2017). Such a choice of shots and the pace at which they are made heighten the drama, especially when principle characters engage in truly nefarious actions.
Peters takes just as a great a risk with his music as he does with the camera. At first, the choice of sound suggests science fiction, recalling stories like the Mass Effect Trilogy (2007 – 2012) to the fore. Yet it works just as well here in propelling a drama in a more contemporary drama towards the stars. Peters also knows exactly when to break from the mellifluous melodies into silence, remaining ceaselessly in control in his of these tools to create suspense and tension throughout the movie.
The movie would have made a great full-length feature, which the writing makes evident. Each character possesses a distinct voice, yet not all characters are able to have their voices heard as much as they could have. An exploration of the relationships between Adam’s protagonist and some of the crucial people in his life by the time those individuals departed from the story would have been greatly received. Still protagonist keeps hold of the audience as he navigates his deeply felt and undeniably relatable struggle towards real and long-lasting connections with others.
Jessica is a dark, thought-provoking tale that sheds light on, among other things, the cost of loneliness. Solitude can make one feel very vulnerable, easily misled towards dangerous territories by the need for reciprocated connections and blind to beauty that is often so clearly visible. Peters emerges from the darkness as a promising filmmaker, with a team beside him also possessing the potential to enjoy fruitful careers in the film business. Whatever happens, their latest work provides a fleeting moment of great entertainment that must be shared with those who revel in relish the works of up-and-coming talent.
Watch the official movie trailer below...