Directed by: #PhilConnell
As part of BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival 2021
Kicking off a week filled with LGBTIQ+ cinema is the fabulously heartwarming Jump, Darling, directed by Phil Connell (his feature debut) and starring the late Cloris Leachman in one of her final performances. Across the week of exciting new releases, films are sectioned into themes — Hearts, Bodies and Minds — Jump, Darling falling into the Bodies category. Connell’s film follows a rookie drag queen, Russell (Thomas Duplessie) reeling from a break-up and escaping to the country, where he finds his grandmother (Leachman) in a steep decline yet desperate to avoid the local nursing home.
Although setting sights on the themes of identity and transformation, this is a film about love and kinship too. Russell is trying to find himself in drag and acting, thus finding purpose in life, meanwhile fighting for his grandmother’s freedom from a nursing home. There’s a constant battle happening within both characters; and as the film strolls steadily through to the close, Russell and Margaret’s evolution simultaneously fluctuates in a satisfying fashion. The direction is simply gorgeous, particularly in the film’s final scenes which bring a well-rounded end to the arcs of both characters, dancing between both perspectives gracefully.
Beyond the simple but touching story and flawless performances, are a great array of technically engrossing features. Jump, Darling has a solid soundtrack with some stunningly vibrant cinematography; colours with blue and purple tones especially pop, and the way in which shots focus on some of the finer intimate moments, brightly contrasted by some wider framing, captures a lot of character within scenes. There’s a subtle edit that keeps the film at a steadying pace, feeling consistent across the board. Jump, Darling can walk the walk, and it certainly talks the talk as it delicately balances the echoing notion of a life beginning, or trying to, whilst another reflects and resides in its bittersweet epilogue.
This film gives Duplessie a breakthrough performance with shining colours, and his partnering with Leachman is so rewarding. She leaves behind a legacy of iconic roles, and, with her support for the LGBTIQ+ community (a true ally for equality), it’s perfect that Jump, Darling be one of her final performances that audiences will see. This is a fittingly sweet and witty film that takes its time exploring two well-written characters with some gentle craftsmanship, and gives attention to two detailed performances in a heartfelt expression of love and understanding.
BFI Flare runs from March 17th - 28th, for more info visit: