Published Mar 01, 2005The Sundance Film Festival, which completed its 2005 edition a month ago, is meant to showcase independent films so that they can be picked up by distributors. The result of this has been such notable films as Clerks, Hoop Dreams, Before Sunrise and last year's Napoleon Dynamite receiving widespread distribution. This year, one of the films purchased for the largest amount was John Maybury's The Jacket, which managed a quick wide release to capitalise on its "buzz" from the festival. But the film is anything but what one would expect of a "Sundance purchase," and this is not a good thing.
The Jacket stars Adrien Brody as Jack Starks, a Gulf war veteran who returns home to Vermont after suffering amnesia from a head wound. After wrongly being convicted of murder, Jack is placed in an insane asylum and is pumped with experimental drugs and placed in a "drawer" while being restrained by a mysterious jacket. As one might imagine, this is the titular piece of clothing from the film's title, and as one might not imagine, it somehow allows Jack to travel to the future to try and solve his own death. He is assisted by Jackie (Keira Knightley), a troubled girl from his past, who also becomes his lover in a very unmotivated plot twist.
The plot summary alone is suggestive of trouble. By film's end though, the holes in the plot become ridiculously large, but the scariest thing about the movie is its eerie resemblance to last year's Ashton Kutcher clunker The Butterfly Effect. Brody tries his best to do what he can with the material, but Knightley is way out of her element. While she's watchable in the "nice girl" roles that made her a pseudo-star, she struggles with a character that is much darker than she's used to.
The Jacket feels like the same old Hollywood films we've grown used to in the first quarter of the year: unoriginal and uninspired. So somehow the fact that it was a production showcased at a festival meant to celebrate the independent film industry makes it all the more disappointing. At least The Butterfly Effect didn't pretend to be anything more than garbage. (Warner Independent)