With MATCHING JACK, I am speaking about issues in the world that are current and relevant to individuals and families around the globe. It is a universal story, shot in Melbourne, Australia, but could be based in any major city in the world. The backdrop is an inner urban landscape, where our couple are caught up in an existence of neither extreme happiness, nor tragic sadness. Their lives are comfortable and conventional. Sometimes it takes a trauma to break the cycle of predictability.
Illness in this story acts as a catalyst for what happens to each of them after the diagnosis. Each one of these characters undergoes enormous change. The type of change that would never have happened without Jack’s illness. Marisa is a mid 30’s professional woman. It’s not until Jack, her 9 year old, is diagnosed with leukaemia, that Marisa starts to question the stability of the family unit they have created. She discovers new boundaries for emotional pain, loss, happiness, exhilarating joy, daring, and an unconventional relationship of romance and love. All these characters have a strong arc, and all these relationships change.
In MATCHING JACK, the children’s illness brings Marisa and Connor to a common place, the hospital. These two people who come from such different worlds first learn to support each other and depend on each other, before they dare to acknowledge the depth of their feelings of romantic love for each other.
Marisa learns from Connor how to function outside convention and to see life from a different perspective. Marisa undergoes change, which in turn empowers her to then go and seek out the women her philandering husband has had affairs with. She pursues this journey so as to find a possible offspring of David’s, which could ultimately save Jack’s life.
With Connor, we see a man who is hurt; loyal and very strong, one who doesn’t wallow in the unfair hand that life has dealt him. Instead he is a person determined to make the rest of Finn’s life adventurous and happy till the end. We see Marisa and Connor, who are thrown into these strange circumstances, come together and create an understanding and supportive relationship that we suspect has longevity beyond the final credits of the film. Connor learns that he is capable of moving on and living after Finn’s death and he can give himself the licence to have a life independent of Finn. Marisa is a great support throughout this period. This is a love story of unpredictable proportions.
As for David, the philandering husband, we recognise that he has a lot of growing up to do. His performance is carefully metered and by the end of the movie, his arch takes him to the healthy point where he can actually live on his own without his many relationships and he has learnt to be a good father.
Jack and Finn (the children) find each other through their new health predicament. The wiser, more experienced Finn, accepts the responsibility of educating and guiding Jack through this phase of his young life. Jack accepts Finn’s guidance and shares his potential for adventure with his new best friend. As a result of the leukaemia, both children become wiser and accept the responsibility for caring for their parents as they embark on the new challenges of their lives.
MATCHING JACK is also about love. The characters find out that life is about many forms of love! It deals with an unconditional love for one’s child and a reluctant love story between a man and a woman.
This is such a slice of life from today’s world with all its angst, pressure, complexity of relationships and a soaring emotional through-line that will have audiences sobbing, and in the very next breath delight in the absurdity and humour of these very charming people and intense times and situation. It’s a celebration of the human spirit as we see each of our characters negotiate their days and finally learn what is important in life.
MATCHING JACK was inspired by a number of true stories. It is a disturbing emotional story with intelligent, sensitive characters and a very entertaining narrative. I am very proud of this film.