Directed by Julien Nicaud | Review by Panchali Kar
[dropcap]J[/dropcap]asper opens the avenue of magic realism, absurdity, psychology, symbolism and open interpretation through brilliant storytelling, filmmaking and performances. The story revolves around anxiety of an individual named Jasper and ends with an unusual twist for this movie genre.
Jasper is chased by a series of thoughts and images etched on his mind due to incidents from his childhood and he holds himself responsible for everything that has happened to him and his mother. His mind is split into two: one telling him what has happened had to happen, and the other holding him responsible for everything that happened. The positive and negative side of his thought process is portrayed by two characters: Karl and Henneri. Whenever Henneri tries to reach out to Jasper’s thoughts, Karl takes him in his confidence. This tug of war is a perpetual battle with the starting point all the way back in his childhood. Jasper draws whatever he envisions and the paintings are often dark and show a beheaded woman in a red dress set ablaze, which disturbs him. Karl tells him to save all those pictures in his memory box.
Jasper has been looking for his mother to beg an apology for everything he’s done and everything that’s happened. Throughout the search, he finds a wounded woman on the street and envisions her to be his mother. He brings her to his place, takes care of her to bring her back to life. The lady however is a daughter of a filthy rich businessman who has contacts with the underworld. Her father appoints a person to find her, who is cunning, shrewd, cruel and merciless.
The director is brilliant in portraying this new appointed person as Henneri, the one who guides the negative brain of Jasper, adding an interesting magic realistic twist to the otherwise fantasy like story telling. In his journey of self-discovery, Jasper almost starts to believe that he’s responsible for all the mess and criminalizes himself, however in the end his conversation with his mother enlightens him with the truth that is practical.
Jasper has instances of fine filmmaking. Apart from magnanimous storytelling and brilliant direction, it exhibits extraordinary performances by each and every actor. Light and sound designing is fantastic and adds an extra layer. I personally would have preferred some more of ambiance sound and silence, however, everything is already beautiful as it is. Appropriate editing is a plus point. The animations were not over the top, thankfully, and did not overpower the imagery created.
Jasper knits a fine balance between grotesque imagery full of blood and flesh and fantasy like softness, that is exactly where it becomes a genre of its own. A film to remember.
Panchali Kar is a Dancer, Choreographer, Actor and Filmmaker. In addition, Panchali is a devout advocate for egalitarian social change, is affiliated with the NGO, Responsible Charity and currently working on a photo documentary on LGBT rights. She is an avid scholar and veteran of the performing arts and a seasoned instructor. Panchali maintains several degrees in the Arts including a M.Mus degree. Ms. Kar is also affiliated with AKTO, a Kolkata theater group based in the city in which she resides.