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Film Review: Jasper Jones


Film Review: Jasper Jones

Michaela McGrath

Riveting, charming and poignant, Jasper Jones is a captivating coming-of-age story directed by Rachel Perkins of Bran Nue Dae and One Night the Moon. The film is an adaptation of Craig Silvey’s wildly successful 2009 Australian novel of the same name, which is widely critically acclaimed and has won a number of awards including the ABIA 2010 Book of the Year. Often referenced as Australia’s answer to To Kill A Mockingbird, there’s no wonder why Jasper Jones has captured the hearts of youths across the country.

The story follows 14-year-old protagonist, Charlie Bucktin, after he is visited and subsequently startled in the middle of the night by local outcast and perceived trouble-maker, Jasper Jones. Jasper leads Charlie to a discovery that transforms his innocence, courage and life forever. The pair attempt to solve the mystery surrounding that fateful night and pursue a mission that both captivates and divides the boys’ town of Corrigan, Western Australia. Tackling ideas of racism, family and most of all courage, Jasper Jones is the story of Charlie’s journey from boy to man.


Both Silvey and Perkins carefully balance the heavier ideas of Jasper Jones with buoyant comedic scenes and heart-warming instances of familial and romantic love. As it is set in 1965 Western Australia, the film deals with a nation at war and the resulting racist climate. These notions are honestly represented through the character of Jeffery, Charlie’s best friend. While at the heart of some of the most confronting scenes of the film, it is Jeffery’s charisma that is employed in several of the happier scenes to covey a carefree sentiment.


Jasper Jones boasts a stellar cast. As well as boasting the likes of the iconic Toni Collette, each and every actor has been superbly cast to fulfil the personalities, dynamics and nuances of Silvey’s characters. Off the back of the recent success in both Pan and Red Dog: True Blue, Levi Miller does a spectacular job of bringing Charlie’s naïve bravado to life on screen while Aaron McGrath and the hugely talented Hugo Weaving excellently construct the culmination of characteristics necessary to build their respectively multi-faceted and complex characters, Jasper and Mad Jack Lionel.


The film achieves an acutely accurate level of representation of Silvey’s novel through the inclusion of intricate and seemingly minimal detail. These details include use of spoken and body language, character idiosyncrasies and sensational casting and all serve to develop the relationships, setting and weight of certain scenes that are at the heart of Silvey’s Jasper Jones. Due to such an accurate depiction of the novel, viewers can rest assured that the award-winning tale that they have come to know and love has not been butchered but rather enhanced in this motion picture version. Equally, as a stand alone film, this iteration of the Jasper Jones story will have newbies rushing to the nearest bookstore to grab hold of the novel that started it all.

Jasper Jones is a gut-wrenching tale of trust, courage and growth that will have you engaged to the last second. Catch it in cinemas from March 2nd.  

WHEN? In cinemas March 2.


Images via Madman Entertainment