Aussie thriller at the Majestic
Young actors tell a very grown-up tale
JASPER Jones, a film based on Craig Silvey’s book of the same name, follows Charlie Bucktin, played by Levi Miller, a bookish 14-year-old growing up an only child in rural Australia, in 1969.
It is a time of great social change – the Vietnam War is raging, there is increased demand for women’s rights and the country recently voted to count Aboriginal people in the census.
Charlie seems to have been sheltered from the trouble in the world around him but his youthful innocence is shattered when Jasper Jones (Aaron McGrath), an older boy born to an Aboriginal mother and white father, taps on his window in the middle of the night asking for help.
Jasper takes him to a clearing in the forest to a macabre discovery that will change their lives.
They can’t go to the police, Jasper says, because everyone will blame him, the Aboriginal outcast. Charlie believes Jasper didn’t kill Laura, so he helps him hide the body.
Jasper Jones is beautifully shot and the town of Pemberton in Western Australia provides the perfect backdrop for the film told by a powerful cast of young stars and Australian veterans of the screen.
Despite their age, young stars Miller, McGrath, Angourie Rice (Laura’s sister and Charlie’s crush, Eliza) and Kevin Long (Jeffrey Lu, Charlie’s best mate) give powerful performances and drive the narrative of the film.
But for what may at first seem like a family orientated tale, Jasper Jones tackles some incredibly dark themes, and without spoiling the ending, we advise parents to read about the book’s plot pretty carefully before taking their children to see the movie.
It’s not that the film’s messages aren’t important – they’re crucial – but be prepared for a few frank family discussions about racism, abuse and suicide.
The bond between Charlie and his mate Jeffrey offers a few laugh-out-loud moments and the relationship between Charlie and his father, Wes (Dan Wyllie) is particularly touching.
Toni Collette’s performance as Ruth Bucktin is solid, and Hugo Weaving helps viewers put the pieces of the puzzle together as Mad Jack Lionel.
Showing at The Majestic until March 22.
Jasper Jones is told by a powerful cast of young stars and Australian veterans of the screen.
YOUNG TALENT: Jasper Jones (Aaron McGrath), Charlie Bucktin (Levi Miller) and Eliza Wishart (Angourie Rice).
AUSSIE THRILLS: Charlie Bucktin (Levi Miller) and Jasper Jones (Aaron McGrath) seek to solve the mystery in Jasper Jones.