Friday, 12 March 2010

No.19 : The Jacket



The ‘jacket’ in question is a straightjacket and it helps someone travel through time. Sounds a bit fanciful and light? Not really, it’s so grim that bits had to be filmed in Scotland!

We open with Adrien Brody fighting in the Gulf War and getting his just desserts, in the form of a bullet in the head when he tries to help a gun toting tot. We see him again a few months later back home, after he has been discharged form a military hospital. His lucky streak stays hot when he fixes the car of a mother and her young daughter but gets the bum’s rush as a reward.

Things look up slightly when he hitches a lift, but wouldn’t you know it? the driver is a nutter who goes on to kill a cop and frame our man for the crime. Adrien gets the worst punishment imaginable - he gets sent to a Scottish mental hospital that doubles for the USA and gets Kris Kristofferson as a doctor.

Kris is a bit of a maverick in the care stakes and his treatment consists of drugging up patients, sticking them in ‘the jacket’ before bunging them in a mortuary drawer. This cruel and unusual treatment has a side effect on Adrien who manages to jump through time, by the time honoured route of the camera darting into his eyes.

He wakes up in 2007 and manages to snag a night on Keira Knightley’s sofa. He finds his army dog tags and soon works out that Keira is the young girl with the dodgy car we met in paragraph two. She sensibly poo-poohs his far fetched tale and tells him that the real Adrien died years back, a mere four days after he went into the drawer.

Adrien spends the rest of the film darting back and forth through time in a bit to solve the mystery of his apparent death and to try and secure a better life for Keira who seems to have grown up a bit skanky. He also gets the information in the future that buys him his favours in the past, in a sort of causality loop that would make the Borg explode if they tried to work it out.

I saw this film way back in 2005 and couldn’t remember much about it what with my own time machine in the shop and all. At first I thought it was going to be a bit grim but an intriguing plot and a top notch cast made it a really enjoyable and thought provoking experience.

It shares a lot with ‘The Butterfly Effect’ although thankfully not Ashton Kutcher. The non-linear narrative and the other world sense throughout keeps you guessing and it’s gratifying when all the pieces come together. Some of the cast do buy into the time travel angle a bit too eagerly and I think I’d be wanting some lottery numbers rather than a few snippets any punter could have gleaned from the papers.

Adrien Brody gives his usual great performance and he’s the kind of actor who seems genuinely likable. Keira does OK and fills the role of the druggy waitress well with her slender frame. In the second string we have Kris as a not quite menacing enough doctor and a pretty frumpy looking Jennifer Jason Leigh as a doctor on the fast track to losing her licence. For your money you also get Daniel Craig as an overacting patient and the great Fish out of Marillion showing he can twitch with the best of them.

The mechanisms in place are never explained and although you could come up with something along the lines of ‘he’s dead at the start’ or something you’d be better off just believing that it’s a magic drawer and be done with it.

The familiar theme of redemption worked its usual magic with me and although the ending wasn’t exactly happy we did get a bit of hope for our troubles - and Keira got a slightly nicer car out of it too!

The direction was great also with the unnerving world of the mental hospital and the claustrophobic environment in general well realised. It doesn’t quite all come together with a few plot strands and ropey performances letting the side down but it’s certainly worth a look and an enjoyable night in (a drawer)

THE Tag Line : This Jacket Required 73%

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