Jojo, a lively 10-year-old with a difficult home life marked by a volatile father & an absent mother, finds solace in an abandoned baby jackdaw. Through the special friendship he builds ... See full summary »
Jojo, a lively 10-year-old with a difficult home life marked by a volatile father & an absent mother, finds solace in an abandoned baby jackdaw. Through the special friendship he builds with the bird, the wall between him & his father will be brought down. Written by
The first feature for the director is a character study involving a young boy (approximately 10 years old) and his father. The film opens with the young boy, Jojo, washing up and then being challenged by his father to a race that is a repeated pattern between them. After the race with his father Jojo discovers a jackdaw chick fallen from its nest in a tree. He climbs the tree intending to place the chick back in its nest but the chick falls from his grasp onto the ground, but survives a second fall. Admiring the chick's toughness Jojo takes him home to rear him.
So begins a tale of the love and attachment between Jojo and the chick, named Jack. Interrupting their poignant and often funny relationship is Jojo's father who is presented as loving but prone to aggression. He does not agree with keeping the chick and twice releases the bird warning Jojo to not bring him home again. But as Jojo tells his father he and Jack are attached to one another and so they keep finding one another in spite of the father's warnings.
During the film we see Jojo apparently talking to his mother on the 'phone. Although she never appears in the film as a character she is manifested through songs and photos that show she was a singer with Jojo's father. Her absence is revealed towards the end when we learn that she is dead and that Jojo will not admit this and allow himself to grieve her; and neither will his father. The film becomes increasingly piquant as Jojo and his father's grief are revealed and these feelings collide with the unfortunate accident that kills Jack.
What sustains the film, rescuing it from being so distressing as to be devastating or sentimental, is the realistic relationship between father and son that is compelling and in which there is much love. The choreography and dialogue between the male actor playing the father and the child playing Jojo is spot-on. The director said that he was interested in the dynamics of father-son relationships and the film succeeds in portraying one such relationship.
Jojo's relationship with Jack is symbolic of his attachment to his dead mother who he will not let go though his father urges and demands him to do so. Jojo keeps her flame alive in her music and his memories. The bird's death when it happens is shocking and an audible gasp was heard from the audience in the cinema; I gasped too. We never learn how Jojo's mother died but one can assume that the suddenness and impact of Jack's death reflects Jojo's experience of his mother's.
A great first feature from the director displaying an adroitness in handling complex feelings and relationships. The bleak subject matter is elevated by the character of Jojo who is a vivid and vibrant character in which much hope is invested and the film closes on another flame lit in his life just as the ones for his mother and Jack are extinguished.
(NB There were children in the audience when I saw the film and there was tears and shock from both children and adults. The film presents and does not shirk from the difficulties in a child's life and as such can be educative, in the best sense, for children providing their parents/guardians can bear the feelings and questions it evokes.)
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