Tampere Review - The Jacket

Feature films often dwell on the melodramatic moments of life. From painful divorces to meteors heading towards the Earth, the feature will often look at how life can change in terms of seismic shifts in someone’s reality. The short form is often one that can examine those minute moments, those small seemingly insignificant incidents – ‘little earthquakes’ - in which a person’s life can change completely. Austrian film The Jacket (Die Jacke) (Dir. Patrick Vollrath, Austria, 2014) is a wonderful example of how to use the short film form to its fullest advantage as it looks at one of these such moments.

A man and a woman walk through the Austrian streets clearly having just met. Heading to a bar they talk, flirt, drink and it’s clear that there’s a spark of attraction and lust between them. But when the girl head to the toilet, the man finds himself in an altercation with a bar patron over his football jacket. When the girl returns to intervene, the situation for the man only gets worse.

The first half of the film fizzles with an intense energy as the protagonists enjoy the thrill of their encounter. The leads exude the excitement and passion of a moment in which the air is filled with the promise of sex, pleasure and enjoyment. When the nature of this excitement turns to fear and embarrassment it does so with an uncomfortable realism and reminds us of how just quickly things can turn around.

But while the film is an excellent evocation of real life (and while there are people who won’t have been through exactly the same situation that the film depicts, there will be many who have dealt with something similar) it’s also an insightful look at masculinity. The need – and desire – for men to be the dominant partner in a relationship is well documented and The Jacket examines just how it can turn everything on its head when this dynamic is changed. Certainly, there’s a pleasingly ambiguous note to the film’s conclusion and makes us question whether the emasculation felt by the male protagonist is real or imagined.

This is a wonderfully compact and lean piece of work that is emotionally resonant and deftly filmed. While not fully established on the festival circuit yet (though a screening at Camerimage Film Festival attests to the quality of the film’s cinematography) the screening in International Competition at the 45th Tampere Film Festival should see it come to the attention of more people and there is a good chance it will be doing the rounds over the months to come.

Film Details
Original Title: Die Jacke
English Title: The Jacket
Director: Patrick Vollrath
Country: Austria
Year: 2014
Run Time: 10 mins
Contact: Patrick Vollrath, pvollrath@nasec.de

07 March 2015, by Laurence Boyce