Jack and Diane: A Different Kind of Teen Romance

Equating teens and animals has long been a handy horror-cinema way to tackle pubescent sexual development. So with its most attention-grabbing element relegated to been-there, done-that status, the werewolf-themed Jack and Diane—whose supernatural intimations are treated in purely metaphoric, not literal, fashion—has little new to offer other than a coming-of-age lesbian romance of a distinctly precious, nostalgia-filtered sort. Writer/director Bradley Rust Gray focuses on young people whose social disconnection manifests itself in awkward face-to-face and cellular communication, with Diane (Juno Temple) and Jack (Riley Keough) given to halting, ineloquent speech dominated by delayed responses and just-functional statements. Their sparks ignite almost as soon as Diane, bloody-nosed and in a Raggedy Ann dress, appears in a store where butch brunette Jack works. A touch of thighs and a glancing brush of a breast are all it takes to send the two to a nightclub where they sit in silence until consummating their attraction with a kiss—a moment of ecstasy, but also of danger, as suggested by visual interludes that hint at an underlying, unstable animalism: hair slithering over and coiling around muscle and flesh. When they stand at a kitchen counter, Keough in a Ministry T-shirt and Temple in a skanky-pixie yellow belly shirt, the contrast is so stark that it comes off as contrived. Although the leads have delinquent attitude to spare—most of it manifested during run-ins with Diane's aunt (Cara Seymour), who's ignored by Diane and taunted with come-ons by Jack—neither is able to emote anything genuine with or without dialogue.

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