By: Trevor Chartrand
JD Cohen’s Introducing Jodea looks and sounds like a movie slapped together by a high school student over the course of a weekend. From the first frame, the technical failings of the movie are painful, plentiful and impossible to miss. With a lacklustre cast and an agonizingly bland script, the movie ultimately leaves much to be desired.
In this film, the egotistical movie director Zac (Jeff Coppage) winds up in a fender-bender with an aspiring actor, Jodea (Chloe Traicos, of HBO’s The Righteous Gemstones). Instead of exchanging insurance information, he offers her a chance to audition for his film. When she bombs the audition, Zac offers Jodea the role anyway in order to win a bet, and to prove himself as a director who can help a struggling actor find her voice. In classic rom-com form, the two quickly form a bond and help each other to better themselves, all while rehearsing a movie.
From minute one, this script penned by Traicos will bombard your ears with the tinny recording of a morning radio show, which features a DJ’s rant about the fakeness of Hollywood and the wickedness of its big players. Given the subject matter of the film, this cynical radio show is likely a thinly veiled expression of the writer’s own feelings – being an actor herself. Ironically, the film later becomes thematically confused when Jodea happily finds industry success and continues making movies, despite the film’s initial criticism of the Hollywood machine. Should audiences feel happy for her, or concerned that she’s sold her soul? The answer is: unclear.
The romance plot that drives the film is also difficult to grasp, with little-to-no chemistry between the two leads. The characters are difficult to connect with, and this is largely based on weak performances. As written, Coppage’s character is incredibly unlikable as well, and hard to accept as a leading man. He comes across as an angry has-been who’s too lazy to attend his own set, choosing instead to direct remotely with a monitor and a microphone.
A good portion of this film features a repetitive pattern of scenes where a frustrated Zac coaches performances out of Jodea, one after another. As she runs her lines, Zac will say ‘that was terrible’ or ‘that was great.’ Unfortunately, the ‘good’ performances don’t seem all that different from the ‘bad’ performances, and if it wasn’t for Zac eventually praising her, it wouldn’t seem like she’s making any progress at all. The cast doesn’t quite have the chops to convey when Jodea is actually succeeding.
Behind the camera, this film is a failure on almost every technical level, with a look so awful it’s as if it were shot on a ten-year-old camcorder. What stands out the most, however, is the unacceptably awful quality of sound throughout the picture. The majority of the film’s dialogue was recorded poorly – and while it’s never indecipherable, it’s bad enough to be constantly distracting. Sound editing choices are baffling, especially when music will fade in over dialogue, while a character is in mid-sentence. It’s jarring and confusing, as if the next scene is starting before the current one is finished.
Despite all this, there’s certainly a lot of passion and heart behind Introducing Jodea. It’s a film that has something to say, even if that something is muddled by its sloppy execution. These filmmakers perhaps have a long way to go before they can produce the movie they had in their minds, but their hearts are certainly in the right place.
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Trevor Chartrand: @OhHaiTrebor