Jess + Moss – SIFF 2011 Movie Review

Jess + Moss [  USA (English), 2011, 82 minutes ]
Directed: Clay Jeter
Principal Cast: Sarah Hagan, Austin Vickers
See it: May 21, May 22, 2011 at Harvard Exit

Cousins, Jess (Sarah Hagan) and Moss (Austin Vickers), take comfort from their dissatisfied lives by riding their bikes, swimming in other people’s pools, trampolining, and exploring their rural Kentucky farm town during a hot and lonely summer. Living at home with her dad, Jess is rather discontent with her life. She has finished high school and has no direction. Moss lost both his parents before he could remember and lives with his grandparents. Jess is a fair bit older than Moss but has no motivation to grow up. Jess is clinging to the idea that her mother will return to take her to a better place. Moss is desperate to remember his parents and keeps listening to self help memory improvement tapes in an effort to remember. Moss takes comfort in having Jess tell him about his parents.

This movie is experimental in both its story line and cinematography. Being a good film festival flick, there isn’t a conventional plot. The movie is a series of vignettes showcasing events and experiences of two youthful souls growing up and learning about life. The scenes are extremely honest and easy to relate to by simply remembering experiences you had when you were young.

The colors are rich and the film quality is grainy. Every sight, sound, color, and texture has a very intense appeal and draws you in. The low light scenes had more grain than I would have wanted, but I think that’s a product of the Super 16mm filming. Sound plays a huge role in this film and the tape recorder / boom box / record player become almost like additional characters at points in the movie. The different sound qualities of the mediums are artistically woven into the film without being much of a distraction.

Overall, I found the film to be enjoyable. That said, this movie isn’t for everyone. I think it would try the patience of many simply because of its experimental nature and lack of a conventional plot.

Film Festivalness: A-
Films don’t get much more film festival than this.

Overall Entertainment / Enjoyment: B
I enjoyed the sights, sounds, colors, characters, acting and setting. I didn’t fall asleep or walk out. It was good, but not mind blowing.

Video and Audio: B
I found both to be mostly pleasing with a tad bit of irritation in some of the edits and with some of the effects and use of static.


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