Beautiful Australian film that is both dark and light
The quartet of young actors in Jasper Jones hold their own against veterans Toni Collette, Hugo Weaving and Dan Wyllie in bringing to life this Australian coming of age story.
From the moment young Jasper Jones (Aaron McGrath), the town's mixed race outcast, taps on 14-year-old Charlie Buktin's (Levi Miller) window, Charlie's mundane life begins to change.
Set in Corrigan, a small county town with inherent racism and restrictive social expectations, during the stifling summer of 1969, this film tackles two difficult themes: racism and sexual abuse. However, this darkness is shot through with lightness – humorous banter between Charlie and his best friend Jeffery (Kevin Long) – and the characters standing up in the face of small-town bigotry.
Even though Jasper has never spoken to Charlie before the night he knocks on Charlie's window, he coerces him to climb out of his sleepout window and follow him into the forest where he shows him the body of young Laura Wishart, Jasper's secret girlfriend. Charlie believes in Jasper's innocence and agrees to help search for the killer.
Along the journey, Charlie stands up to local racists, discovers his mother (Toni Collette) has turned to the local police chief (Matthew Nable) to escape the stifling drudgery of country living while his father (Dan Wyllie) retreats to his home office to finish writing his novel. Meanwhile, Charlie falls in love with Eliza Wishart (Angourie Rice) and discover his courage.
The film is based on Fremantle's Craig Silvey's novel of the same name. Directed by Rachel Perkins, this film captures the Australian landscape like Scott Hick's 2009 film, The Boys are Back and its domesticity is like that of Muriel's Wedding, in which coincidentally Collette and Wyllie starred.
Shot near Pemberton in Western Australia's south-west, the beautiful production design brings the 1960s vividly to life. This is a film not to miss.