Combustible Celluloid
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With: Juno Temple, Riley Keough, Kylie Minogue, Dane DeHaan, Leo Fitzpatrick, Haviland Morris, Cara Seymour, Michael Chernus
Written by: Bradley Rust Gray
Directed by: Bradley Rust Gray
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content including nudity and an assault, bloody violence, language and drinking - all involving teens
Running Time: 110
Date: 04/20/2012

Jack and Diane (2012)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Love Is a Monster

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The writer/director Bradley Rust Gray is capable of subtle character studies, like The Exploding Girl (2009), and he nearly creates something as good with Jack & Diane. But the weird, violent touches in the movie's margins cast a confusing and sickening shadow across the rest of it. 

The shy, distracted Diane (Juno Temple) comes to stay with her aunt (Cara Seymour) in New York City, and meets a damaged, streetwise, tough girl called "Jack" (Riley Keough). They quickly develop feelings for one another and spend a great deal of time kissing, though neither is sure how their relationship will progress, especially since Diane is leaving for Paris soon (and doesn't know how to tell Jack). Their feelings grow so strong that they eventually turn into monsters and devour each other. Is this all happening in their dreams, or is their love destined for destruction on a real level as well?

The monster attacks -- and the weird little interludes leading up to them -- don't make much sense, unless it's to underline something as simple as "they love each other so much they want to devour each other." If so, there has to be a better way to show it. Perhaps worse is the idea that Gray added these sequences as a way to cash in on the general horror/romance trend of the successful Twilight movies. Without the gore, Jack & Diane doesn't have much of a story, but it does have two interesting characters (with two strong performances). They could have been the subjects of a more emotionally involving, and less baffling, movie.
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