Kids are cruel. No matter what socio-economic background they come from, children can be just as vindictive and creative in their torture of one another as grown adults. In Felix Thompson‘s new coming of age narrative KING JACK, we route for one boy in particular. Pushed around by school bullies and antagonized by his older brother, Jack is a typical teenager simply trying to find his place in the world like any other. When Jack’s aunt becomes ill, a cousin moves into the house, displacing any sense of privacy. Given the task of looking after his younger relative only lessens his already weak facade of coolness. Stalked by one serious older bully and his cronies, Jack must come to terms with the cycle of hereditary violence and find out what courage and manhood truly mean.
Felix Thompson‘s does double duty as writer and director. Organically shot and tenderly written, Thompson brings real truth to a script that could have easily been formulaic. Moments of real fear and embarrassment come to life on screen. These are the moments that bring us back to a time that may not have been our favorite but were essential in shaping who we became as adults.
Young lead Charlie Plummer is a phenomenon. One would almost think this was a documentary with a performance so incredibly natural. It’s a gutsy role for an actor his age to take on, and he absolutely nails it. In fact, the entire cast is top notch. Not a single beat is missed. Again, a huge nod to Thompson’s ability to direct a cast mainly comprised of teens. Cory Nichols, as cousin Ben, gives a noteworthy performance. Cute, funny, and honest, I hope we see much more of him in the future.
KING JACK is successful on so many levels. Though, admittedly, at moments it is hard to watch. The film will resonate with anyone who has come home crying, anyone who has been called names, anyone who has felt alone. What makes KING JACK difficult to watch is the very thing that makes it great. I highly recommend you take the entire family to see this feature. Parents: It’s a great insight into what your kids experience with the added complication of technology. Kids: You might just find that Mom and Dad can relate to your life in ways you never thought possible.
You can still catch two more screenings of KING JACK at the festival!!