Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Jacinta (2020) opens Friday

Jacinta and her mother.
Jessica Earnshaw's JACINTA is a raw, rough and tough to watch film. It is an unflinching look at a young woman struggling with substance abuse. It will horrify you and break your heart.

As the film begins 26 year old Jacinta is in the same prison as her mother. The advantage to being in prison is it keeps her sober until she gets out. While she is in prison she writes letters to her 10 year old daughter Caylynn which she never sends. Caylynn lives with her paternal grandparents. She was given over to them when the young girl was an infant, because Jacinta knew she would be safe there until she could get her head straight and stay out of trouble. Ten years on she is still there.

I'm not going to go into more details of what happens. It's not that some of the turns are unexpected, and they are unexpected, but more that Earnshaw has crafted a film one has to experience rather than see. Watching the film, watching Jacinta cycle through her life being sober, stoned and everything in between it is clear that the director and her subject have complete trust in each other. Nothing is held back which makes watching this film so riveting and so tough to endure. Earnshaws work is do good it is clear why she won the Males Award for Best New Documentary Director at Tribeca.

This is tough film to write on. How do you write on life or a life? What am I supposed to say? This is an observational documentary where we observe a life. While it is clear that Earnshaw is part of what happens, we hear her voice and the people talk to the filmmakers, this is largely just watching a life play out before us. How do you critique it? You can't say "it's got a nice beat and you can dance to it so I give it an 87" like it's a song.

JACINTA is an slice of life you experience. It is door through which you step for a  while as you experience something that is, hopefully, another part of life different than your own. It is a film that leaves you feeling a great deal. It is a film that makes you consider your own life and the life of others. It is a film that will alter how you see the world.

I like Jacinta, both the film and the young woman. I wish them both well. However while I suspect the film does not need help and will do great on it's own, I will continue to say a prayer that the woman stays clean and can get her life to remain together.

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