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Canadian Film Festival ’16: Jackie Boy

Jackie Boy leaves a controversial footprint at this year’s Canadian Film Festival.  It’s bound to shake up the room and ignite all those who watch it.  In other words, filmmaker Cody Campanale reminds us of how films can be greatly provocative and start intelligent discussions.

The central character is Jack, the leader of his friends and considered to be the smoothest player of the group.  He targets happy-go-lucky women at clubs, manipulates and seduces them, and takes advantage of them (usually with hard drugs).  Campanale uses a seemingly laid-back shooting style by letting his camera scour through crowds and techno beats;  much like Jack’s predatory instincts.

Jackie Boy floats around Jack, his friends, and the incessant chauvinism they pride themselves in.  However, the film grows legs once the filmmaker locks onto a plot with potential longevity.  Jack meets his match when he meets Jasmine, an attractive stranger who appears to be a manipulative match.  The audience can tell she’s dealt with plenty of “Jacks” before.  However, her teasing fuels Jack and vice versa.  It’s a relationship that begins as a typical play-by-play, but unfolds into something truly unpredictable with constant power shifts.

Jackie Boy will be an unflinching reflection for some viewers.  It’s a film that has a slick shell that contains dour opinions about apathy awash in a sea of selfie-snapping millennials.  As much as we may find ourselves repulsed by what the film presents, it’s hard not to agree with the depressing results.

It’s a film about sexuality – controlling it and losing touch with it.  Characters in Campanale’s screenplay realize the intensity of seduction, but are too drunk on power to realize how vulnerable they become if they indulge too much.  The characterization reminded me of last year’s indie darling James White in how damaged people can be the crux of their own demise.  However, the James White vibes transform into Drive-inspired ultra-violence when the explosive final third comes around.

I’ve been following Cody Campanale’s filmmaking career for a while.  When I saw a short film of his at a past Canadian Film Fest, I could tell he was ready to graduate to longer runtimes and more elaborate stories.  This study of shame in a shameless time is an incredible debut for filmmaker Cody Campanale.  Jackie Boy could be this generation’s Boys Don’t Cry.

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