Film Review – Josie & Jack (2021)

As incredibly tedious as it is intriguing, a slow burning thriller and sleight of hand incestual romance, following the tragic exploits of home schooled siblings Josie (Olivia DeJong) and Jack (Alex Neustaedter) as they embark on an alternate life beyond the confides of their crumbling Pennsylvanian mansion, shared with a ridiculously cruel single father intent on overbearing authority.

Bold choice as debut feature for established actor Sarah Lancaster, effort of atmosphere strong, as is the brilliant performance form Australian DeJong. Her encapsulating, mind wandering Josie has layers of soul amongst the horrendous situations that fall before her.

Small moments such as cleaning up after a regular furniture throwing episode by her drunk dad are clarity to family loyalty.

Legendary, William Fitchner (Heat, The Perfect Storm) brutally conveys the professor father, without remorse. Classical music and various score beats spark attention when required.

Always close, these generally reclusive siblings have their own special relationship, dependant to each other, survival is paramount.

Jack is happy to sleep his way around for financial benefit under false circumstances.

Two fleeting girlfriends, played by fantastic Anna Baryshnikov, and tragically realistic Annabelle Dexter-Jones, are imperative; separately the deceived duo fall under his sexual spell only to flame out when truths unravel incurring uncomfortable confrontations, or ironically when Josie arrives on the scene.

Editing seems rushed, possibly to cut running time, expanding certain story arcs would benefit dramatic poise, although despondency remains strong, so beware.

A successful child actor rapidly performing beyond her years in everything throughout an established indie film career, Olivia proves immersive in this dark tale.

★★ 1/2

Drama | USA, 2019 | 15 | Digital HD | 22nd March 2021 (UK) | 101 Films | Dir.Sarah Lancaster | Olivia DeJonge, Alex Neustaedter, William Fichtner, Anna Baryshnikov, Annabelle Dexter-Jones

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