Friday 6 October 2023

Movie Review: The Swearing Jar (2022)

Genre: Romantic Drama
Director: Lindsay MacKay
Starring: Adelaide Clemens, Patrick J. Adams, Douglas Smith, Kathleen Turner
Running Time: 111 minutes

Synopsis: School teacher and aspiring singer/songwriter Carey (Adelaide Clemens) informs her husband Simon (Patrick J. Adams) that she is pregnant. They agree to curtail their swearing habit, and then break the news to his caustic mother Bev (Kathleen Turner). Carey suffers mood swings, but also notices Simon's increasingly weird behaviour. In a separate timeline, Carey is drawn into a potential romance with guitarist and bookstore clerk Owen (Douglas Smith). A third sequence features Carey performing her songs at an intimate gathering, accompanied by Owen on guitar.

What Works Well: Writer Kate Hewlitt adapts her own play into this Canadian production, and eloquently explores themes of love, trust, loss, and longing. Director Lindsay MacKay finds soulful notes filled with glow, wit, and realism in the pregnancy, romance, and performance components of Carey's life, gradually connecting the fragile threads. The dramatic tones are low-key and enlivened by small humorous touches, many courtesy of Kathleen Turner's lived-in abrasiveness, while Adelaide Clemens delivers a grounded performance and finds good chemistry with both Patrick J. Adams and Douglas Smith.

What Does Not Work As Well: The script is only made possible by many characters hiding many secrets from each other, a device that ultimately undermines the consistency of emotions on display. The songs are certainly organic and heartfelt, but remain amateur compositions delivered by music dabblers. 

Conclusion: Counters contrivances with a bittersweet attitude and thoughtful assembly.

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