Action / Drama

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 50%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 43%
IMDb Rating 6.5 10 3309


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May 04, 2016 at 04:56 PM



Rupert Friend as Coco Leger
Dermot Mulroney as Uncle Phil
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2hr 1 min
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23.976 fps
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by napierslogs 9 / 10

"Jolene" is an unforgettable journey

"Jolene" is quite a film. It's about the journey of life for Jolene (Jessica Chastain), who is quite a character. A girl who was left to be raised by the authorities, she is itching to experience more of the world and be happy—the type of girl who could get hurt. But Jolene has an indescribable quality that makes people fall in love with her, lust after her, commit crimes for her and then go crazy, and generally in that order. Likelihood is they'll get hurt instead of Jolene.

The film strikes a remarkable balance between the quirky, comedic charms of the characters and the somber and serious situations that Jolene gets herself into. Although, as a caveat, I do recognize the critics' complaints that that balance can be quite jarring. The journey the film takes us on with this unforgettable character is a fascinating, funny and joyful one, but also at times, harrowing. Crimes of passion, crimes in the name of God, and crimes for money — all for Jolene — are all committed. No body is left unturned.

The path the film took to get to us is almost as tumultuous as that of its heroine. Tumbling through the small film festival circuit in 2008 and 2009, it didn't get a distribution deal until 2010. And then it only opened in a handful of screens. But now everybody can finally see this extraordinary film and extraordinary actress. Jessica Chastain is starring in Terrence Malick's highly-anticipated, masterpiece-to-be "The Tree of Life". It's time to meet this star-in-the-making in "Jolene".

"Jolene" captured my heart, and then attempted to stomp all over it, but the film leaves its mark, as does the character Jolene, as does Chastain. I'm still not exactly sure how to take it, but it was an amazing experience.

Reviewed by Robert J. Maxwell ([email protected]) 6 / 10


Jessica Chastain, as Jolene, a pale, freckled girl with wild red hair, is only fifteen when the story begins in South Carolina. She's been abandoned by her parents and has grown up as a ward of the state. She's an appealing, impulsive, sexy girl with a casual sense of stoicism.

Let's see. She drives her first boyfriend to suicide. Her second beau is a bigamist pretending to be much younger than he is. He goes to prison for statutory rape. Chastain is sent to a correction facility where one of the staff, Frances Fisher, falls in love with her. They get it on together in private and Chastain doesn't mind a bit being loved by a woman. You get used to it.

Fisher endangered her own career by smuggling Chastain out of the Home For Wayward Girls and hides her in her own home, warning her not to leave the house for any reason "until this blows over." A quickly bored Chastain leaves anyway and hitch hikes to Arizona, servicing a couple of truck drivers along the way.

I'll make the rest of it quickly. Chastain is courted by a failed guitar player and rock singer who now runs a tattoo parlor. He marries her, but he turns out to be already married and is also a drug dealer.

She hitches to Las Vegas, where she is spotted pole dancing by Mr. Big, Chazz Palmintieri. She lives with him in a penthouse overlooking Las Vegas until Palmintieri dies a natural death from bullets.

Next, ho hum, she hitches to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she is spotted as a waitress and courted by a very odd-mannered man whose family "owns half of Tulsa." The diamond in her engagement ring is the size of the Rock of Gibraltar. She marries him and has his baby, but he's a rude, religious fanatic and beats her. The wicked family kicks her out and takes the baby.

Last scene: Now all glamorized and un-hicked by make up and a sense of comme il faut, she wanders the streets of Hollywood, hoping to become a famous movie star, go back to Tulsa, and reclaim her baby.

The performances are okay. Nobody torpedoes this movie. And Chastain is quite good in the central role, as is Palmintieri, who finally gets a chance to project genuine sincerity. There are a couple of stereotypical figures but their appearances are brief.

It's nicely photographed and directed, and the script gets the job done, but at heart it's the story of a woman abused in every way by men and by the system that's supposed to provide shelter from them. The men are all cads or crooks, and the system works for the wealthy. And the climactic scenes with Chastain's son, when she is declared an unfit mother because of her "checkered past". My God, do we have to go through that again? What is this, Lifetime Movie Network? Why not change the title from "Jolene" to "Please Don't Take My Baby!"

Well, the first half of the movie, the part shot in South Carolina, isn't bad at all, a tangled web of American values. And the weaknesses of the men are somewhat counterbalanced by the fact that Jolene herself isn't really a very admirable figure. She starts out dumb and naive, humping rednecks in pick up trucks and whatnot. But every time she meets a new suitor, none of whom she loves, and moves in with him, it's another step up the ladder of wealth and status. "The money doesn't matter," but she keeps getting richer and richer because she's beautiful and willingly shares beds.

We've seen much of this before. Other versions are usually shot inexpensively in Canada, starring nobody you ever heard of, but they're all supported by the same familiar, sagging spine. And at the end, the protagonist walks bravely alone, smiling, optimistic. She still has her dreams.

It's by no means an offensive movie. It's a little reminiscent of "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore", the far superior "Wanda," and a number of other stories of women on their own. But it is repetitious, and finally boring, in its formulaic way.

Reviewed by Tony Heck ([email protected]) 10 / 10

Fantastic, fantastic movie that is difficult to explain. More movies like this should be made. Great acting and story. I say A

When do you know for sure you are in love? After a failed marriage at a young age, Jolene (Chastain) deals with getting over the past and finding herself. She sets off on a journey across the country looking for what is missing in her life. This is a very, very good coming-of-age story, also kind of inspiring in a way, no matter what happens to her she never gets down and keeps pushing forward. On the other hand it is also pretty depressing to watch what this girl goes through. This movie does a great job of showing what a girl, who was raised as an orphan and spent her youth between the home and foster parents, acts like. Though it's not her first movie the woman who plays Jolene (Jessica Chastain) is fantastic in this. It's not an easy role, especially with as much sex and nudity involved (nothing gratuitous, it actually helps define the character), along with the ranges of emotion she must portray. I'm really surprised she didn't get any recognition for this. I don't want to give too much away, but I really, really enjoyed this movie. I give it an A.

Would I watch it again? - I did already.

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