The Surrogate: Beumer’s Road-Trip Drama Breaks Down All Along the Way
Wince-worthingly announcing itself as the bonding roadtrip type where strength is in the numbers, secrets will be revealed and internal struggles will be projected onto those that are within arms’ length distance, by design, helmer Antoinette Beumer’s formulaic Jackie covers no new ground with its let’s throw caution to the wind epiphanies, and digs a hole for itself fairly early on when trying to insert comedic elements in what is essentially a watered-downed dramatic feature. A pro women, family values and same-gender relationships, this mostly Dutch despite Amerciana landscape struggles because of its severe lack of emotional depth and vaguely sketched characters.
Scribes Marnie Blok and Karen Van Holst Pellekaan’s portrait is one of newly tacked on life lessons told via the POV of a pair of mid 30-ish non identical twins (the miscast Van Houten sisters) who must trek from their native Holland to Mid-West America to come to the aid of their never before seen mother – a Holly Hunter in a Wyatt Earp type matriarch role. The improbable premise charts the estrogen filled family reunification pointing westwards, cowboy country is covered with a clunky Winnebago and populated with conversations that start, but quickly end when the characters dart, making for a collection of tantrum filled tirades that come across as a succession of false one notes.
When Hunter’s character thankfully does decide to break out of her mute state, a family trait that she does not share with her Dutch offspring, the trio oddly don’t do much in terms of making up for lost time, instead it is their journey, and clashing egos that fills up the narrative tank. As a fear confronting drama about dealing with the past and present day relationships, Jackie comes across as one-noted with its men are jerks deflections and as a sweet-nature comedy, when it comes to stretched RV homes of the sort, one might be better off sticking to Alexander Payne types. And when this collective journey arrives at its final pit stop — one can’t help but think that the anti-climatic ending could have made for an excellent middle point.
Reviewed on September 6th at the 2012 Toronto Int. Film Festival – Contemporary World Cinema Programme