Jump, Darling (2020) [FilmOut San Diego 2021] 

Following a breakup, a young drag queen goes to the countryside to regroup and stay with his aging grandmother. There, he finds a small community that allows him to find himself again. 

Written by Phil Connell with story editor Genevieve Scott and directed by Connell, Jump, Darling is a family drama, a film about finding yourself at more than one stage in life, and a film about so much more. This film feels like a very personal story, one filled with emotions and attachments. The way the lead is brought the screen and how the grandma is as well shows how understanding of the material Phil Connell is and how careful the film’s crafting was even before the cameras started rolling. The film is one that has the right balance between story and emotions, between being about the characters and about their lives, it’s a film that feels like a natural evolution for the characters, one where characters are fully fleshed and given room to be.  

Those characters are carefully acted, yet they feel organic. The lead of Russell is played by Thomas Duplessie who shows great understanding of the part and shows the he truly can get the character and put them forth on the screen. The performance here that is downright stunning is that of Cloris Leachman as Margaret, the grandmother with dementia who Russell ends up taking care of a bit by accident. Her work her is amazing and she shows not only a solid performance of a delicate character, but also gives a brace performance as someone whose mind is leaving her. She’s amazing to watch and the whole film gains from her presence. While Duplessie is the lead and gives a great performance, Leachman is amazing, touching, and full of a certain innocence that comes when one’s mind starts to wander a bit more than usual. This is really her movie here, even though Duplessie gets scenes that are showstopping, this is her film, she stole it and ran without looking back. 

The film has a look that shows the entire budget and then some. The sets, décor, wardrobe, lighting, and everything else, comes together to gives the film a look that is just right. The cinematography by Viktor Cahoj is great. The visuals created here look gorgeous and make the countryside look appealing and completely remote at the same time, something that for this viewer is a bit of a miracle. The film looks good throughout and some of the scenes look magical.  

Jump, Darling is potentially one of the best films of the year, on the festival circuit and in general, so if you come across it, give it a watch. There is something here more than with a lot of other family dramas out there. There is something here that just pulls the viewer in and makes them care. It is also one of the last few performances from Cloris Leachman and what a performance it is. 

Seen as part of FilmOut San Diego, please visit their site at www.filmoutsandiego.com to support.