Jump, Darling is a sparkling, unusual, dark comedy with a tender family story at its heart |BFI FLARE 2021

Jump, Darling is a film that is wonderfully funny from the mind of writer and director, Phil Connell. The Canadian film presents a snapshot moment in the life of aspiring drag queen, Russell played by Thomas Duplessie. Moments before he is due to take the stage for his first big time drag performance, Russell’s boyfriend confesses his disappointment and embarrassment in his lover’s chosen profession. Crushed by the lack of support he is shown, Russell drinks his feelings away and gets in to such a state he can’t do his act. Ashamed of what he has done and feeling unwanted by his boyfriend, he leaves for his grandmother Margaret’s home. Although, he goes to visit her at first only to collect the old car that she had long ago promised him, Margaret played by Cloris Leachman, uses her wiles to trick him in to staying with her as she knows something isn’t quite right with her grandson. It doesn’t take long for each of them to realise that the other has become a bit of a lost soul in need of a little human kindness. Both know they can’t go on as they are in life and after family secrets shine a light on some hard truths they take the first steps towards want they truly want.

This really is a dark comedy with heart that says a big fuck you to conventionality. Russell feels conflicted in his own status as a gay man. His passion for drag doesn’t fit under the umbrella of acceptable ‘mainstream’ gay behaviour. He struggles against the recurring implications that gay men fit nicely in to the straight world as long as they are not ‘too gay’. Being effeminately queer can be seen as passé. Russell is lost and asking himself what kind of gay is he.

Similarly, Margaret is also lost. Her astrology loving daughter just wants her to go in to a home with all the other old people but Margaret doesn’t want to. She is a problem as she doesn’t want to conform either. She fears losing her independence more that losing her life.

Together they feel solidarity in feeling they are a burden for the woman that connects them. Margaret’s daughter and Russell’s mother played by Linda Kash. Both feel constantly chided by her as she tries to show them love in the only way she knows how.

I loved this movie. Cloris Leachman’s betrayal of the brutally blunt grandmother made me laugh heartily. The film opens with Leachman showcasing the kind of comedy that her fabulous career has oozed by seeing Margaret accidently scorching her hair whilst igniting the stove. The chemistry she has with Thomas Duplessie creates a tempestuous but warm relationship that is utterly joyful to watch. Duplassie’s brilliantly portrays Russell as he stumbles in and out of deep emotional trenches and then flips effortlessly in to his gloriously vivacious drag persona.

The colour, lighting and costume anchor the film in to reality. The soundtrack is simply banging and carefully selected. Featuring tracks by Years and Years, the Scissor Sisters and Robyn, it is hard not to love it. (I have already made it in to a Spotify playlist!)

Jump, Darling is a dark comedy of lost soul with a tender story of self-discovery at its heart.

Jump, Darling will be available on BFI player as part of the BFI FLARE festival 2021. Click here to find out more about the BFI Flare Festival and to watch the film.

Find out more about Jump, Darling on the official movie website.

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