Cinema Review: Jump, Darling

Adam RuhlLGBT Film, LGBT+Leave a Comment

Coming to select theaters this Friday, is one of the final performances of the incomparable Cloris Leachman! From the synopsis:

‘Half-prepped before a dressing room mirror in the back of a bustling city gay bar, Russell, an actor turned drag queen, struggling to find his voice, is given a wrenching ultimatum. Overcome by indecision, he escapes to his grandmother’s house in the country. There he finds sardonic Margaret in steep decline. In a perfect, if precarious solution for both of them hemoves in to protect her from her greatest fear – the local nursing home. In no time, Russell is lighting up the local college bar with his alter ego Fishy Falters. Antagonized by his overprotective mother, a sexy-though-mysterious college boy, a cockney city gay bar owner, and the spectre of his failed-artist grandfather, Russell struggles to realize a bold new identity. Meanwhile, Margaret fights to retake control despite her faltering mind.’

Jump, Darling is by no means a perfect film. It falls into many of the ultra-low budget traps and LGBT cinema cliches that ensnare so many films. Cloris Leachman is very under-utilized and her character’s plot often feels divorced from the main narrative. The main narrative is as indecisive as the protagonist; a young man, spurned by his partner for wanting to be a drag queen, runs away to a rural gay bar and meets a hot bartender and lip synchs for his life. It feels like they’re checking boxes on a Gay Cinema Bingo card. The film is never boring, but it all feels like a grab bag collage of formulaic plot points, leading to what is ultimately difficult to say.

However, that said, there are definitely reasons to watch Jump, Darling. Cloris, when she’s onscreen, gives a standout performance. At 90+ years of age, she was doing things in this film that are beyond daring. Trust me when I say, you’ll see parts of her that you never imagined you would. She carries a lot of the film and you find yourself waiting patiently for each next time she appears.

Also, I want to call out writer/director Phil Connell for his talent on the screenplay. The individual characters are quite interesting and have really unique voices and manners of speaking. There are little moments and backstories peppered throughout that are genuine human experiences that are almost never seen on film. I found myself relishing those brilliant, if all too rare, nuggets sprinkled sparingly in the film. Between those, Cloris Leachman, and a couple of well-shot dance numbers, Jump, Darling was an enjoyable journey worth taking at least once.

Jump, Darling will open in Los Angeles on March 18, Palm Springs and New Orleans on March 25, and will arrive on DVD & VOD platforms including iTunes/Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, Vimeo, DirecTV, Dish/Dish Digital, and through local cable & satellite providers on March 29.

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Adam RuhlCinema Review: Jump, Darling