Craig Silvey’s acclaimed novel, Jasper Jones debuted in 2009 and talks about the dark times of simmering racism in Corrigan, a small town in Australia. The book received global recognition and has clinched several awards both in Australia and internationally. For book reviewers, it is regarded as an Australian response to ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. Several well-known and acclaimed Australian film and TV stars perform in the movie, including Toni Collette and Hugo Weaving.
Rachel Perkins has dictated her prowess and directed the book into a beautiful movie that has engaging scenes and a wise choice of characters. Contrary to people’s expectations, the main character in the screenplay isn’t Jasper Jones but Charlie Bucktin a 13-year-old who realises that getting justice isn’t as simple as he thought.
Charlie has had his eyes on one sassy girl in his locality, Eliza Wishart and like the a norm amongst most teens, making that first move is a challenge to the boy. One night, Jasper Jones an aboriginal boy comes knocking at Charlie’s window seeking his assistance. Jasper drives the astonished Charlie into a dark forest and from a far Charlie sees a body hanging on a tree. On a closer look, he realises that it’s the body of Laura, Eliza’s Sister.
Jasper is more than certain that the blames on the murder will be directed to him hence he requires assistance to cover the truth by hiding the body. He is able to convince Charlie to help, and together they sink the body into a nearby lake. According to Jasper, the real killer of Laura is Jack, a man who lives nearby. Jasper is focused on proving this, but no one listens to his pleas.
As expected, Laura’s unaccounted disappearance brings the whole town of Corrigan into a panic. A situation that burdens Charlie since he knows the truth but can’t disclose it. This is however not the only truth Charlie discovers. As the events in the film unfold, he realises that Corrigan is full of sexuality and other vices. The obvious racism that is laid on Jasper and other original people of Australia is apparent in the screenplay. The residents and their negative attitude towards the Aboriginals is something that troubles Charlie.
The film’s storyline is also full of unanswered questions. Why does Jasper settle on Charlie as an accomplice yet they both had no history of being allies? Why is it so simple for Jasper to evade the authorities? Why doesn’t the police investigation reach the lake where Laura’s body is dumped?
Rachel Perkins, the movie’s director, is certainly a force to be reckoned with in Australian screen productions both on TV and film. With over 20 years working in the industry, her creativity in engaging viewers and turning and twisting events is commendable. She knows how to depict imagery and scenery to be more meaningful and really immerse the viewer in the situation at hand. The film has excellent staging. Rachel also sticks to the events of the novel and exposes an authentic Australian based setting in the incidents in the movie.
The storyline of the film is that of racial prejudice brought through the eyes of very young and naive characters. Due to its wonderful choice of characters and an accurate reflection of the book’s events, it is fair to rate the movie as great for viewers whether you’ve read the book or not. We highly acclaim the film and encourage you to go out and see it if you have the opportunity. You won’t regret it.