Starring Jason Tobin, Eugenia Yuan, Glen Chin
Directed by Dax Phelan
Intrigue, love, loss, revenge and condemning sadness are all on the slab here in Dax Phelan’s ultra-gloomy thriller, Jasmine, and it’s safe to say that the pain one feels over the loss of a spouse is nothing compared to when the truth finally reveals itself – WHOA. Let’s jump inside this dark presentation and see what answers we can dig up.
Abandoning the usual hyperactive Hong-Kong style of filmmaking, Jasmine instead opts for a more subtle and gloomy pace to its presentation. Jason Tobin stars as Leonard, a man who seemingly never got his life back on track after the brutal murder of his young wife, Jasmine some time ago. After having to pick up the shattered pieces of his life, one day at the cemetery he sees a mysterious man (Byron Mann) placing flowers upon his late wife’s grave. Is this the man who took his bride’s life and sent Leonard’s days into a never ending downward spiral of doubt and depression? Only in his meetings with old friend Grace (Yuan) does Leonard begin to exhibit signs of heartfelt emotion once again (although you’d never know it from her reactions). It’s been a long while since I took in a film where the lead actor or actress was set against the overwhelming backdrop of a bustling metropolis, and made their surroundings seem infinitely small and unassuming – this is the performance that Tobin delivers and it’s fantastic.
During the film’s progression, Leonard’s desire to learn more about this mysterious man grows deeper, as his psyche still lies trapped deeply beneath a mountain of sorrow – what this film ISN’T is a feel-good flick, so don’t jump in thinking you’ll be enduring a laugh-a-minute exhibition. Phelan takes a litany of sentiments and employs them to not only strengthen his characters, but lay them out so that the audience can try them on for size – how would you feel if your loved one’s life was ended by someone, and now you can see the after-effects from the front seat? Pretty chilling stuff, without a doubt. The film isn’t an unforgiving march through one man’s worsening charge towards the truth, but rather an intriguing stroll through darkened alleys and busy streets after dusk. Overall, Jasmine is one of those movies that might look completely different from its initial consumption, but it does move along nicely aside from a very abbreviated runtime. Make sure to give this one a good look when it crosses your path.