‘Jasper Jones’ Review: Well-crafted Australian drama channels Stephen King’s more grounded mysteries

This review was originally published on KENS5.com, and can be viewed here. 

A pivotal point in the Australian drama “Jasper Jones” arrives when Toni Collette’s eyes become beach balls and words of frustration fly as her character, Ruth Bucktin, rips into her husband for going easy on their son after he’s been caught having snuck out of the house at a troubling, potentially dangerous time. If you’ve seen “Hereditary” – which otherwise has no parallels with “Jasper Jones” –  you might be reminded of Collette’s now-beloved monologue of fury in that particular movie, and her outburst serves a similar purpose here: Revealing surprising considerations of theme in what has largely been a genre movie up to this point, and in the form of cross-generational guilt that doesn’t spare fathers, sons or mothers.

Propelled by the delicate storytelling maneuvers of Australian director Rachel Perkins and a tactile awareness of the genre confines it’s operating inside of, “Jasper Jones” is a coming-of-age story Trojan Horse’d in a murder mystery and towed by explorations of ‘60s-era paranoia exacerbated by underlying racial tensions. That is to say, there’s enough material in these 100ish minutes to fill a hearty season of TV—ironically enough, the televisionscape is where Perkins has spent most of her career. And it’s attractive to think some of the tangential characters of “Jasper Jones” would benefit from the extra attention. Continue reading →