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  Josie & Jack Too Close
Year: 2019
Director: Sarah Lancaster
Stars: Olivia DeJonge, Alex Neustaedter, William Fichtner, Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Anna Baryshnikov, David H. Holmes, Owen Campbell, Nicholas Gorham, Emma Kikue, Eric T. Miller, Bobby Daniel Rodriguez, Nancy Eng, AJ Kane, Kate Elefante, Nadia Bowers
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Josie (Olivia DeJonge) never really knew her mother, she died when she was a little girl, leaving her under the care of her father Raeburn (William Fichtner), with her older brother Jack (Alex Neustaedter) actually taking care of her as best he could. But he was by no means reliable, for he had a wild side himself that was opposed to their overbearing parent, leading to fights over the dinner table. Worse than that, he tended to use Josie, as when he persuaded her to encourage the local pharmacist's assistant Kevin (Owen Campbell) to make it look as if she was romantically interested in him, all so Jack could gain access to the drugs he had in his shop. But was this pair closer than either would like to admit?

Were they, in fact, incestuous? That appeared to be the hook for the audience in this, TV star Sarah Lancaster's directorial debut, an adaptation of Kelly Braffet's novel that they collaborated on the script for. If that premise makes you go "ew!" rather than intrigue you, then the rest of the film would not appeal, yet if your prurience had you wondering what that could be about, you would not exactly be satisfied either, since Lancaster preferred to be oblique in her depiction of how far the siblings were going with each other, to the point of it barely mattering at all in the great scheme of the plot, at least until the final five minutes where the threads of the meandering piece began to tie themselves up - but into knots you were unsure were worth untangling.

There was certainly no spark of forbidden lust between leads DeJonge and Neustaedter, they could not even muster any indication they even liked one another, never mind growing too close for comfort, with teenage Josie a sullen presence at most, a disagreeably passive one at worst, and Jack a budding hipster who fits right into the obnoxious scene they both find once they flee the mansion and their terrible dad and head for New York City. Fichtner was trapped in a one note monster role he could do very little with, snarling out his lines but never giving the impression of the supposed intellect Raeburn was supposed to possess. He was, however, a good deal more charismatic than the two playing his children, and once this settled into its groove it was desperately difficult to care what happened to anybody in this.

Anna Baryshnikov and Annabelle Dexter-Jones showed up as characters for Jack to seduce and exploit, hinting at a more interesting duo than the one we were saddled with, with the brother and sister living with each of them until one throws them out and the other guesses their secret, but by the point of the latter you will probably be happy to see how Josie reacts to this set of circumstances. The tone was too cool for school, apt when Raeburn had refused to send his kids to a place of learning out of sheer snobbery and overconfidence, but it wasn't half wearing to be sitting through two hours of it. Shot in a gloom of pale blues and sickly yellows, it did not look that attractive either, and with nobody to latch onto aside from a concern the bovine Josie is going to fall in with the wrong kind of person - she does and indeed, she has with Jack - a fatal lack of humour that might have made this more welcoming served to drain away the potential. Really, this was a case of a story that obviously would be better on the page, you can tell that from the early stages. Music by Zach Robinson.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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