Thursday, 23 October 2008

Jinx Sister

Written and directed by Athina Tsoulis

**** 1/2

Laura knows she’s jinxed.  She’s always surrounded by trouble, and people who get close to her have habit of dying.  Ten years ago she fled to America, but her glamorous new life hasn’t turned out to be the release she expected.

Rapidly unravelling and realising the only place left to run is back home, she’s soon facing her demons in the multicultural suburban blur of south Auckland.

Laura’s journey ties all the characters together, so the film stands on Sara Wiseman’s sympathetic portrayal of her.  Wiseman imbues Laura with a sense of fragility, creating a creating a character you can’t help feeling for, even as she lashes out against her friends and family.

This is that rare film in which all the characters feel like real people, rather than cardboard cut-out supporting acts.  Rachel Nash turns in a standout performance as Mairie, Laura’s long neglected sister, as does Jarod Rawiri, as Sam, ex-con with a heart of gold.  Writer/director Athina Tsoulis describes the cast as “a dream team” and the results are certainly up there on screen.

Although Jinx Sister is at times a sad story, a deft comical touch and dashes of optimism keep it from being tragic.  Tsoulis called time on dark cinema, saying: “Films where the protagonist descends into hell have lost their appeal, and I wanted an ending that… was one of hope.”

It’s a local film with a huge heart, and earned the home-grown label in the truest sense – made with virtually no budget and relying on the generosity of the small cast and crew, the filmmakers discovered their “renegade” shoot ultimately freed them in many ways.

A true blue kiwi film, JinxSister is filled with local humour and accents, and there are plenty of laughs along the way as we recognise just how well we’ve been captured on camera.  It’s an emotional ride, but it’s a very satisfying one.

This review was originally written for an online magazine, and is republished with permission.

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