Directed by Felix Thompson
“King Jack”, an independent drama written and directed by the debutant Felix Thompson, shows enough good attributes to deserve a look.
The film isn’t flawless, but its characters are well shaped and the story tries to withdraw something positive from a set of negative experiences endured by a fatherless 15-year-old boy.
Jack (Charlie Plummer) is known in his modest little town as ‘Scab’, a nickname earned very early thanks to his big brother, Tom (Christian Madsen), with whom he maintains a distant and often strained relationship.
Jack has been terribly bullied along the years by Shane (Danny Flaherty), an older local who, together with his friends, chases him everywhere and beats him up hard.
Despite trying to avoid Shane, Jack sticks to a rebellious attitude and answers back to the provocations through unimaginable ways. To give you an idea, the film opens with a scene where he writes in big letters the word ‘c**t’ on the home of the bully.
Apart from this persistent distress, Jack’s time is spent at school, where he fantasizes with the indifferent Robyn, or in the company of Harriet who has a crush on him.
The real adventure starts when his unfamiliar 12-year-old cousin, Ben (Cory Nichols) arrives to stay for the weekend. Jack immediately makes very clear he’s no babysitter, and smoking a cigarette with a stylish superiority, gives Ben all the instructions on how to behave and who not to talk to. Soon, they become buddies but their friendship is put to a test when Ben is made hostage and ‘tortured’ by the ignoble Shane. In the course of this extreme situation, he ultimately resorts to Tom to save his cousin. Anyway, he knows he’ll have to deal with brutal retaliation.
Mr. Thompson’s efforts in drawing something truthful were achieved thanks to a solid camerawork and the young Plummer’s performance. Even if no particularly fresh ways were used to examine the topic, there’s something that deserves to be explored in this coming-of-age film, this year's audience winner at Sundance.