Now, I like me a long-hot-summer. coming-of-age American indie film as much as the next Sundance attendee, and King Jack *** fits the bill nicely.
Jack (Charlie Plummer) is a 15-year-old delinquent bullied mercilessly by Shane and his gang and dominated at home by his older brother Tom (played by Michael Madsen’s son Christian).
When Jack’s younger cousin Ben (Cory Nichols) comes to stay for the weekend while his mother recovers from a mental breakdown, Jack is initially hostile to chubby Ben. But the pair slowly bond over baseball, rubbish parents and girls.
However, Shane and his bullies quickly close in and, while Jack runs off, they capture Ben and hold him hostage. Jack calls on big brother Tom to come to the rescue, re-igniting what appears to be an old feud.
First time director Felix Thompson – and his DP Brandon Roots – love the freight trains, telegraph poles and weed-strewn junk yards of this hard-scrabble nowheresville. But they also have a tenderness for their characters which bursts through and elevates this Tribeca audience winner above the ordinary.
King Jack has an instinctive feel for the atmospheres, silences and hormonal obsessions of teenage life as well as real sense of the awkwardness of trying to grow up.