Review of Jack and Diane

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Riley Keough & Juno Temple portray Jack and Diane, two teenage girls who meet in New York City and spend the night together. Diane's charming innocence quickly begins to open Jack's tough skinned heart. However, when Jack discovers that Diane is leaving the country in a week, she tries to push her away. Diane must struggle to keep their love alive while hiding the secret that her newly awakened sexual desire is giving her werewolf-like visions. Written and directed by Bradley Rust Gray.
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Movie Review: "Jack and Diane"

-- Rating: R (strong action and bloody violence throughout, and some language)
Length: 110 minutes
Release Date: Nov. 2, 2012
Directed by: Bradley Rust Gray
Genre: Drama/horror/romance

The long-awaited movie "Jack and Diane" is finally out. This is essentially about the romance between Diane (portrayed by Juno Temple) and the tomboy Jack (portrayed by Riley Keough), a romance that manifests itself in very strange and horrifying ways. The two meet and start a relationship during a summer holiday, but Diane is meant to leave before the end of the holiday and the lovebirds want to make their romance last.

In the movie, Diane is a British girl who is staying with her aunt Linda (portrayed by Cara Seymour) while on holiday in New York City. She gets stranded after losing her cell phone, leaving her unable to contact her aunt. That is when she is rescued by Jack, who lends her a phone to use and introduces her to the party scene in New York City's downtown. Jack, realizing that Diane has low self-esteem, flirts with her a lot and in the process manages to inflate her ego. Together, they indulge in a lot of drinking and drugging.

The relationship between the two goes on for a week and is filled with a lot of hurdles and sex. Although the two are merely teenagers, each of them has a checkered past. Diane's sister is understood to be utterly damaged and Jack had a brother who committed suicide.

In essence, "Jack and Diane" is a fairy tale movie with a subplot of lesbian romance. It relies heavily on symbolism to tell its story. There are flashes of quivering viscera and warring beasts interlaced between romantic scenes in the movie, as well as interludes of animation from the Brothers Quay showing braided hair in some internal organs. Critics who have analyzed the movie say that these animated, grisly scenes are meant to portray the emotional vulnerability of young romance. They also symbolize the inevitable heartache that must befall those who fall in love at a young age.

Other horrific symbols used in the movie include dream/nightmare sequences and nosebleeds that frequently plague Diane and Jack. The two lovers frequently turn to werewolves when faced with their fears and heartaches. Aunt Linda is portrayed as a pushover, and her attempts to control the daredevil stunts of the star-struck lovers are unsuccessful.

Every romantic touch and gaze between the two girls is tracked by the camera, perhaps as a way of revealing the depths of their relationship to viewers. These shots are also meant to show the unspoken connection between the two. Jack is cute and carefree and fathoms herself as a bad girl out to have fun irrespective of what others have.

The film is not without humor. Jack frequently comes up with deadpan wisecracks, jokes that contribute a lot in livening up a movie that would otherwise have been flat. There are also other comical scenes in the movie, such as the scene where Diane tries to shave her pubic hair but ends up calling for help when things go awry with the shaving cream.

Most of the horror scenes, if not all, that involve a werewolf, are beautifully shot. There is nothing worse than a horror scene that fails to frighten, and thankfully, "Jack and Diane" doesn't fall into that category. The scenes are adequately frightening and suspenseful. A good example is the scene where the lovebirds get stuck in a dark basement and the only light available is the flash of Diane's camera.

Bradley Rust Gray is the movie's writer and director. This is not the first movie Gray has written and directed; he also wrote and directed the 2009 film "The Exploding Girl." His other works include "Salt" (2003) and the 2006 drama film "In Between Days." The two lead actors are not new to film too. Temple has starred in several movies, such as "Atonement," "Killer Joe," "The Dark Knight Rises," and others. Keough's works include "The Good Doctor," "The Runaways," and "Magic Mike."

The credibility of the actors and the director's attention to detail are credited for keeping viewers interested in the movie until the end, although the movie's tone shifts at some point between ominous horror and whispery romance. It seems as if the two lovers can't make up their minds on whether to devour each other sexually or physically. Throughout the film, one gets the feeling that the two are lost in their sexual connection and are oblivious to each other's true nature. Gray's young casting choices are solid enough and seem to hold great potential in the world of acting.

Rated: 2 out of 5