Jump, Darling @ image+nation

Jump, Darling features Cloris Leachman’s final starring performance. Let that sink in a while. As you get older eras (of every kind) begin to disappear right before your eyes. This is one of them. All we have left of comedic actresses of a certain age is Betty White. It is sad.

Writer/director Phil Connell for his debut feature film gets the comedic actress to star in his small film. Quite a big get! Not only is she in the film but she plays a central role. This is no cameo! It is a role we have grown accustomed to seeing her in as she has aged. The cranky old lady full of piss and vinegar. She does it well. Layered into that is also several funny and heartwarming moments to make it less one-dimensional.

Family dramas of the LGBTQ variety have not occurred frequently in the film world. When we speak of diversity this is one of the areas which is in dire need of improvement. There are plenty of families with a queer member or two, so let’s get them represented. Let’s see their stories.

Breakups are hard. For anyone. Doubly so if you don’t really have a job to support yourself with or a direction in which you know you are going. It is almost as if the bottom has fallen out of your life. Now the quest is on to find out what’s next.

This is exactly the situation Russell (Thomas Duplessie – appeared in episodes of Murdoch Mysteries and Reign) finds himself in after leaving Justin (Andrew Bushell – appeared in episodes of Designated Survivor and Defiance). No job, no money, no apparent path in life, Russell’s wheels are spinning.

So he spins them out to his grandmother Margaret’s (Cloris Leachman – Young Frankenstein, The Croods) place. She lives in a rural town which seems like a strange place for Russell to flee to as he is gay and makes his living as a drag performer.

Once there though he now has a place to live he begins to realize that his grandmother is not in great shape. Her mind seems to be slowly going. Margaret is aware of her decline but wants to stay in her home. She knows that if her daughter, Russell’s mom, Ene (Linda Kash – Best in Show, Cinderella Man), finds out that she will place her in a home and she will do anything to avoid that. The two strike up a deal which sees each benefit, but you know that this is not going to be a permanent solution.

Besides the grandmother-grandson and gay man trying to find his way in life sides of the story, there is also a well thought-out examination of dying and the right to doing that as you wish. Over the last year I think all the neglect and tragedy which has come to light concerning seniors in long-term care homes have made people sit up and recognize the inhumanity of it all. How it has become acceptable that we just isolate seniors away in facilities almost like they are no longer parts of a family. Seen as a burden rather than a wealth to society. This point is delicately and intelligently illustrated in Connell’s enjoyable film.

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