Matching Jack

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This is one brilliant Australian melodrama – it is massively heavy and requires two full boxes of tissues. The film is about Cancer and to top it off it’s about child’s leukemia and the entire film is about tearing your heart apart.

Jacinda Barrett, Tom Russell, Richard Roxburgh, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Nadia Tass

So why would anyone want to watch this film? Why would we put ourselves through hell and back and become Jason sobbing uncontrollably? I even made a comment on my radio segment last week that I was going to see the film that very night and that it was a “cancer film”. Mike Goldman made a comment back to me that actually stopped me. “Everyone you know has a cancer story, everyone has been touched and torn apart by this disease and there should be more films about cancer and how it effects people”. I tip my hat to you Mr Goldman. I think the whole of Australia, even the world, should see this film.

Jacinda Barrett, Tom Russell, Richard Roxburgh, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Nadia Tass

Matching Jack is a powerful emotional drama from award winning director Nadia Tass, about the unbreakable bond between parent and child.

At the same time Marisa Hagen (Jacinda Barrett) discovers that her child (Tom Russell) is seriously ill, she also finds out that her husband (Richard Roxburgh) has been unfaithful for years.

Marisa goes on a bizarre search in an attempt to turn her husband’s serial affairs into a positive – an illegitimate child could save her son’s life. A chance encounter with another parent, Connor (James Nesbitt) & his son Finn (Kodi Smit-McPhee), leads them on an unpredictable journey of love and hope.

Jacinda Barrett, Tom Russell, Richard Roxburgh, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Nadia Tass

Like I said, everyone has a cancer tale, mine is the loss of the closest man I have ever had in my life when I was 13, my grandfather, the best man I have ever known who raised me like a son. My mum lost her best friend in her early 30s and my best male friend lost his father at the same age I was when I lost my grandfather, before I got the chance to meet the man who would be so proud of the son he raised.

Jacinda Barrett, Tom Russell, Richard Roxburgh, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Nadia Tass

Cancer is hideous, but imagine discovering your child has a form of cancer and what it would do to you – it would drive you to the gates of hell to attemp to rectify the situation and this is the sucess of this film. I believed every part of it. It does have a glossy ending but not before your heart is ripped out and served on a plate in front of you. This would seriously be a superb film for all school children to study.

Jacinda Barrett, Tom Russell, Richard Roxburgh, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Nadia Tass

The film is directed by Nadia Tass, a stalwart of Australian cinema, TV and theatre, she hasn’t directed for cinema since 1997 when she made us Amy. She does a superb job of bringing us a well rounded beautiful tale of family, love, dedication, sadness, hope and determination. It stars Jacinda Barrett who has been in Ladder 49. Poseidon (although we won’t hold it against her), Bridget Jones 2, The Last Kiss and Middle Men. She rocks – I cannot fault her performance. It also stars Richard Roxburgh who plays a great and selfish role, he would be best known for the most recent Hawke – as the man himself, and besides the mutlitude of Australian roles he is more worldly known for things like Van Helsing, Moulin Rouge, Stealth and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Then there is James Nesbitt as Connor, the father of another sick child. He is just awe inspiring and the most selfless character in the film. Nesbitt is most known from TV shows Murphy’s Law and Cold Case.

Jacinda Barrett, Tom Russell, Richard Roxburgh, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Nadia Tass

Then come the kids – the heart and soul of this film. Firstly their is Tom Russell as Jack. This is Jack’s fourth film and he will soon be seen in Tim Winton’s classic made for TV, Cloud Street as Young Fish Lamb. The kid is great and shows an emotional level not yet grasped by many Hollywood adult actors but he is overshadowed by my favourite child actor Kodi Smit-McPhee who plays Finn. The charatcer of Finn held much pain for me – one of my fave children in the world is named Finn, and all I could think of was what if that was my Finn. How would his mother deal with the pain of it all and how could I cope with their grief? I couldn’t. But Kodi delivers yet another superb performance. Mark my words, this kid will become one of the greatest actors in the world. He is just brilliant at everything he touches. He has been in Romulus, My Father, The Road and soon to be in the much anticipated US version of Let Me In. Watch his space!

This film is horrendously sad and will dredge up your own personal cancer demons, but it is beautifully told and the end of the journey is worth the trip. It is out now and I urge you to watch it. Worth 9 out of 10.

– Salty Popcorn