Starring: Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kris Kristopherson, Daniel Craig, McKenzie Phillips…
Written by: Massy Tadjedin, Marc Rocco, and Tom Bleeker
Directed by: John Maybury
Released: March 4, 2005 (U.S.)
Overall score: 7/10
Brody performance: 8.5/10
In my top 10 Adrien Brody movies, The Jacket is number six. So, obviously, I enjoy it. There are just nitpicky things (or maybe valid) things that keep it from scoring higher.
Adrien plays Jack Starks, a Gulf War veteran with amnesia, who comes to Vermont in 1992, seeking to start his life over. He meets a mother and child on the side of the road, and later hitches a ride from a man. Both of which have a lasting impact on his life. That’s the most non-spoilery way I can possibly sum that up.
As a result of an incident, Starks ends up confined to a mental health care facility. A doctor on the staff is conducting experiments on patients, and Starks becomes one of these test subjects.
Again, I’m trying not to give away too much, here, because I want you to see this movie and interpret it as you see fit. Its story and imagery are both definitely up for interpretation.
Adrien did a spectacular job as Jack Starks, and dedicated himself to the physical demands of the role.
What I Liked
Obviously, Brody’s performance, as mentioned above.
If you happen to be a fan of Daniel Craig, you’ll enjoy his impressive (and nearly unrecognizable) performance here. The chemistry between Craig and Brody is better than that between Brody and Keira Knightley, in my opinion.
I also really enjoyed Jennifer Jason Leigh’s work here, as a doctor who genuinely wants to help Jack. She also seems to be the only person willing to stand up to the horrible doctor in charge (Kris Kristopherson).
What I Didn’t Like
Keira Knightly has certain idiosyncrasies in her acting that just got to be too much here. A certain way of holding her mouth, a certain type of head tilt… it became distracting. She generally did okay, but it was obvious she was acting on many occasions.
Another thing that bothered me while rewatching is the interaction between Jack and a certain character. This character is shown as both a child and as an adult. When Jack visits the child version, I don’t know, it’s just… kind of creepy. I’m not sure how to avoid spoiling if I say more, but if you’ve seen it, you understand.
The Jacket is a tricky movie to get “right.” I’ve seen it something like seven times now, and each time, I change my mind about what’s really happening. That may drive some people away from this film, but I think it makes it worth rewatching.