Three Imaginary Girls

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Jump is an exhilirating time-running-out heist movie with meatheaded goons, a sadistic low-level crime boss, The Last Job, a crime that could save someone’s ass… all the stuff you'd look for from that genre. It’s also a girl’s-night-out comedy, with missed connections, shots lined up in a bar, flirting, escaping through a bathroom window, and some casual shoplifting. And there’s some meet-cute romance thrown in for good measure, although the meet cute is less standard: goons dangle the boy over the side of a bridge to dissuade him from searching for his brother, while the girl (who’s the goon’s boss’s daughter) is about to kill herself by jumping from the same bridge. Kismet! 

Jump puts all of these genres in a blender, throws in the chronology of the story, and presses puree. It’s as dense and layered and as out-of-order as the new season of Arrested Development, which means it only makes sense as you watch it, so I'll skip the plot summary. But as original and fresh as the pacing feels, there are two other, more striking things about it. The first, as The Stranger pointed out, is that despite all the goons, there is only a single gun in the whole movie. One gun! In a heist thriller (girl’s night out/comedy/romance, but still, probably mostly a heist thriller)! I asked the director Kieron Walsh about that after the film, and he said that while it’s far harder to get a gun in Northern Ireland than it is here, it’s certainly possible. So it wasn’t a reflection of availability. He said he wanted to make a movie where people aren’t just constantly getting shot all the time. There are essays I’d like to write about that, but just to summarize, I’ll assert confidently that the movie is better for the lack of gunplay. More creative, certainly, and with even higher personal stakes, because any violence has to be accomplished hand to hand, and the characters have to reckon with that.

The second striking thing is the fact the movie’s main characters—the suicidal girl, the revenge-driven boy, the weary crime veteran, and the petty shoplifter dressed as Sexy Mary Poppins—each prove to have a functioning moral compass. At some point, each one behaves with decency, even at personal cost. The series of coincidences, mishaps, and poor decision-making each encounters (or indulges in) seem at teims like they’ll drive everyone off a cliff, metaphorically speaking if not literally, but although there is tremendous loss, ultimately they navigate towards something nobler. The movie is not preachy—it’s not about being moral per se. If it’s about anything, it’s about the value of life and of living, even when life is awful. And it’s exciting to see a funny, touching, action thriller that’s about anything at all. 

{Jump screens one more time at the 39th Annual Seattle International Film Festival on Wednesday, 6/5, 8:45 pm at the Kirkland Performance Center.}