This coming of age story hides a dark secret, a secret that will have long term consequences for all those involved. The film is based on the 2009 novel of the same name by Australian writer Craig Silvey. He along with screen writer Shaun Grant have crafted a script about growing up that gets the mix of awkward and adventurous just right.
The story is set in a small town in Western Australia and it mirrors small town life with a loving feel. The surrounds are idyllic and its inhabitants are not portrayed as yokels but as a community with compassion but one coloured by conservatism and some degree of racism. Into this mix we focus on Charlie Bucktin (Levi Miller), a soft spoken and sensitive 14 year-old boy who is about to get pulled into a world previously unknown to him.
The cast is peppered with well known Aussie thespians and both Hugo Weaving as a recluse and Toni Collette as Charle’s often times neurotic mother deliver outstanding performances. It’s a story told with subtle shades and understatement but one that has a punch when dark details are revealed.
Jasper Jones harkens back to the age when Australian cinema focused on the everyday life of its rural citizens and not just the extreme characters that inhabit the fringes of its society. It’s an engaging story well told with some darkness at its core that separates it from a being just a warm and fuzzy tale of small town life.