December 1, 2012 -- The title, “Jack & Diane” suggests a little ditty about two American kids growing up in the heartland, but this has nothing at all to do with the song by John Mellencamp. Too bad. One of the kids isn't even American.
Diane (played by Juno Temple of “The Dark Knight Rises”) visiting America, gets lost in an American city and (this is actually unthinkable) doesn't have her mobile phone with her. That's the first bit of unreality in a film loaded with monsters, images of internal organs with hair snaking through them, blood, teeth falling out after a kiss, people throwing up in an alley and people killing themselves because of a broken heart. Some people call this charming. Pardon me while I gag.
Diane goes around asking strangers if she can use their mobile phones so she can call her aunt Linda, but nobody wants to help her. Part of the problem is that people can't understand her easily because of her accent. She's from England, but this is no BBC accent, it is something else, almost unintelligible. She ends up in some kind of weird shop that seems to be a front for some kind of Internet pornography operation. There she meets Jack (a woman, played by Riley Keough of “Magic Mike”) who takes a shine to her.
Diane and Jack go to a nightclub where they end up kissing passionately, right after Diane pukes and has Jack smell her breath to confirm the pukey smell of it. So, they are in bleeding love. First Diane gets nosebleeds, then Jack gets nosebleeds. I did not know nosebleeds were in any way contagious. Then Jack gets hit by a cab while skateboarding. This causes a bloody scrape on one side of her face, and loosens a tooth, which comes out later during a kiss. It also damages her cassette tape and player (a primitive devices used to play music before the invention of the CD, the Ipod, smart phones, etc.).
Jack confesses her love to Diane in a painfully inarticulate way, explaining that the cassette tape was made by her brother, who killed himself when his girlfriend left him. She has never shared it with anyone before, but feels Diane is “the one” she wants to share it with. Diane is also almost completely inarticulate too. If you subtracted the word “like” from Diane and Jack's conversations, they would be far shorter and more intelligible.
In the director's statement Bradley Rust Gray explains that “Diane can't find the words to explain how she feels. Instead, her head gets fuzzy, she gets scared, she panics... and she transforms into a horrifically violent creature covered in blood. This creature, though it is grotesque, becomes Diane’s way of saying, 'I love you so much I want to eat you and put you inside me forever.'” In one dream sequence, Diane reaches inside Jack and pulls out something that looks like an internal organ and starts eating it. The monsters also appear in dreams, along with gooey internal organs with strands of hair moving through them. How charming, and romantic.
I confess that I included a portion of the director's statement here because I didn't make the connection between the gooey internal organs, monsters and love when I watched the film. Now it seems pretty clear to me that this movie is largely preoccupied with the pain of love, how love makes monsters of us sometimes, and how it can make us lose control, how it can hurt us. Love can be very scary. But this movie makes love so scary, and so unpleasant as to make it seem love is something to be avoided at all costs, like this movie. It rates a C.
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