As soon as I saw the movie poster for the film “Jump Darling” I concluded this drag queen movie is not for me. I was never a fan of drag queens prancing about in outlandish costumes but was really turned against it after seeing a documentary from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, “Drag Kids” where children were performing drag. Judge me if you wish but that documentary was sickening.
I told my press contact at Breaking Glass Pictures that I was not into drag and would not be reviewing the film. He responded by saying the film was” light drag” and Cloris Leachman’s performance was excellent. Both these statements were true.
Russell (Thomas Duplessie) plays Fishy Falters a failing actor that unleashes his passion for drag but has a meltdown at his Toronto gay bar Peckers and runs out preperformance and leaves his live in relationship with a successful straightlaced lawyer and heads to his grandmother’s house in the scenic Prince Edward County which is about a two and a half hour drive from Toronto. His grandmother Margaret (Cloris Leachman) is a very old grandmother with a sarcastic and droll sense of humour who embraces Russell as a person without any gender labels.
Russell is deeply hurting from something I am not quite sure of but he rebuilds himself by bonding with his grandmother and establishing his drag queen persona at a local gay bar.
Margaret is being pursued by her daughter (Linda Cash) to enter a long-term care facility called Millbrook skillfully shot so that it looks like the Millhaven penitentiary in nearby Kingston! Margaret and Russell fight her daughter’s attempts to resettle her at Millbrook.
Leachman plays her role as a subdued feisty grandmother perfectly. She is tolerant, wise, loving, bitter and is beginning to realize there is not much point in living further. Leachman won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress in “The Last Picture Show” and holds the record for most Emmy nominations at 22! Leachman died at the age of 94 in January. Again I would like to say her strong performance is not flashy and grand but subdued, poignant and at times tender.
Duplessie portraying Russell offers credibility to me about drag dancing as a highly toned performance art and moves it from kinky to highly respectable as his costuming is not over the top and the focus for him is dancing not shocking his audience most of whom like being shocked. Perhaps Russell sums up drag astutely by saying it is not about how you fuck but saying fuck off to the shame. Duplessie is both a fantastic dancer and a good actor. Linda Kash is excellent in her supporting role as a well intentioned and caring daughter and mother.
The soundtrack is excellent and as Canadians Carol Pope’s “High School Confidential” couldn’t have found a better film.
The film weaves a good story and may just make you feel at ease with the drag scene as drag queen Russell is as restrained as his grandmother if such is possible as a drag queen.
A happy ending with a bittersweet touch.
“Jump Darling” will be opening in select theatres on March 18 and on DVD and digital on March 29th.
You can see the trailer here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH8Qv3BGAUk
The film is directed by Phil Connell who states, “Over a period of years, my late grandmother struggled with how to prepare for her ‘decline’ – be it physical or mental. It was the topic of conversation each time I would visit her. Meanwhile I was struggling to maintain my resolve – against the forces and voices of self-doubt that every artist faces – and wanted to explore that in the distinctly queer context of drag.”
RKS Film Rating 88/100.