Aussie thriller at the Ma­jes­tic

Young ac­tors tell a very grown-up tale

The Coffs Coast Advocate - - LIFE -

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.

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