Josie & Jack review – shockingly lifeless incest drama | Film

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“Your dad kept you locked up in an old house,” a character drunkenly blurts out in this adaptation of Kelly Braffet’s gothic novel about childhood misery and brother-and-sister incest. “It’s soooo Flowers in the Attic.” If only! The most shocking thing about this movie is how stale and lifeless it is, as if entire scenes had been placed into a vacuum storage bag, zipped up, and sucked of all energy and human feeling.

Set in the 1990s, it begins in rural Pennsylvania where 16-year-old Josie (Olivia DeJonge) and her older brother Jack (Alex Neustaedter) have been raised in a spooky old house by their physics professor father (William Fichtner). He’s a violent pompous drunk who homeschools the kids rather than sending them to “the idiot factory” local high school. In a few flatly acted scenes, he rants grandiosely about his university colleagues and hurls crockery at his children.

Jack is a good-looking bad boy who instructs Josie to seduce the kid behind the counter of the local pharmacy so he can get his hands on prescription drugs. And Jack creepily paws at his sister, stroking her hair and walking into the bathroom when she’s in the shower. Director Sarah Lancaster’s script, co-written with Braffet, keeps the audience guessing right up to the end how far things have gone between them – but there is so little visible chemistry between the actors you may not care either way.

Eventually, after a massive barney at home, the siblings escape, arriving penniless in New York where Jack attaches himself to an Upper West Side socialite, Lily – a brittle performance by Annabelle Dexter-Jones so good it deserves a better role. As for Josie, she is a disappointing non-character – often spotted with her nose in battered Kafka paperback to show she’s got a brain, but 90 minutes pass before she gets a chance to use it. Unintentionally, perhaps, the film is the story of monstrous men (a daddy dictator and controlling brother); the women are weirdly blank.

Josie & Jack is released on 22 March on digital platforms.

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Josie & Jack review – shockingly lifeless incest drama | Film

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