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The Jacket

I was 27 years old the first time I died. 

Year: 2005 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from The Jacket

Films seem to be getting weirder and weirder, notable examples include Donnie Darko, The Butterfly Effect and now The Jacket.

Jack Starks (Brody) is a soldier in Iraq 1991, but gets sent home after sustaining injuries such that the nurse was very surprised when he opened his eyes and looked at her. Once back in the US it isn't long before Jack is being tried for the murder of a cop. All he can remember though, is helping out a young girl and her drunken mother whose car had broken down on a snowy road. In his bewilderment he tells the court that he believes he has already died. Found not guilty on grounds of insanity, Jack is sentenced to an institute for the criminally insane. Here a doctor Becket (Kristofferson) is secretly trying a new procedure, where patients are secured into a vast straight jacket and locked inside a mortuary compartment. Lying in the dark, unable to move, Jack screams to be let out as flashbacks from the war tear his mind apart, but suddenly he finds himself standing outside Baille's Motel and Diner on Christmas Eve. A young woman (Knightley) is leaving work, and asks him if wants a lift anywhere. "Where are you headed?" she asks, "I don't know" he replies truthfully.

Adrien Brody's acting in this film is exceptional; he plays his delusional character with grace but with the flexibility to portray his more serious moments too. Brody himself requested to be left in the jacket between takes so he could get the feel of being so trapped; eventually he suffered a panic attack, moments of which are used in the film. Knightley's character is the ugliest she has ever played; a depressed and destructive woman, yet to her credit she plays the role beautifully. Leigh and Kristofferson are excellent and provide two opposing atmospheres to the film.

Although confusing in nature, all gets explained and this film has genuinely great moments of tender emotion and subtle loss. Brody's protagonist is impossible not to care for and as such his journey is one that draws you in right from the start. This is well worth seeing.

Nick Grills

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Screenings of this film:

2005/2006 Autumn Term (35mm)