Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Sophie Jones Review: A Realistic and Raw Portrait of Growing Up

Directed by  Jessie Barr	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Jessica Barr	 Jessie Barr	...	(Writer)Cast   Chase Offerle	Chase Offerle	...	Tony Sam Kamerman	Sam Kamerman	...	Kate Elle	Elle	...	Lily Natalie Shershow	Natalie Shershow	...	Quinn Jonah Kersey	Jonah Kersey	...	Sam Jessica Barr	Jessica Barr	...	Sophie Jones Sharae Foxie	Sharae Foxie	...	Ms. Baum Skyler Verity	Skyler Verity	...	Kevin Tristan Decker	Tristan Decker	...	Riley Kyle Stoltz	Kyle Stoltz	...	Dark Room Instructor Claire Manning	Claire Manning	...	Claire

Release date: March 2, 2021
Running time: 85 minutes
Starring: Jessica Barr, Skyler Verity, Claire Manning, Charlie Jackson, Chase Offerle, Sam Kamerman, Elle, 
Director: Jessie Barr
Written By: Jessica Barr, Jessie Barr

Inspired by true experiences of grief, girlhood, and growing up, Jessie Barr’s directorial debut SOPHIE JONES provides a stirring portrait of a sixteen year old. Stunned by the untimely death of her mother and struggling with the myriad challenges of teendom, Sophie (played by the director’s cousin Jessica Barr) tries everything she can to feel something again, while holding herself together, in this sensitive, acutely realized, and utterly relatable coming-of-age story.

Katie Prentiss	Katie Prentiss	...	Denise Dave Roberts	Dave Roberts	...	Aaron Charlotte Jackson	Charlotte Jackson	...	Lucy Hannah Sapitan	Hannah Sapitan	...	Amber Produced by  Jessica Barr	...	producer Jessie Barr	...	producer Joe Dinnen	...	producer Lindsay Guerrero	...	producer (as Lindsay Friedman) Nicole Holofcener	...	executive producerMusic by  Nate Heller	Cinematography by  Scott Miller
Sophie Jones perfectly encapsulates the awkward journey of self discovery that many go through as they are trying to grow into an adult.  But Sophie Jones adds an extra emotional layer on top of that with Sophie dealing the recent death of her mother.  It is fitting that Sophie Jones starts with an awkward opening as many of us look back at this time and remember the confusion and insecurities of youth.  And the combination of these two elements (grief and growing up) paint an interesting coming of age portrait.  It feels like it comes form a personal place, and I imagine that both writers had very personal contributions to this story.

A lot of this is helped by Jessica Barr's performance as Sophie Jones.  She has an inherent uncertainty and certainty in her choices; she is unsure of what to do in order to cope with her mother's death, but is also so headstrong that she dives into the choices she makes in exploring this.  And she puts herself out there by playing a vulnerable, confused young adult growing into her own.  The film is also helped greatly by Skyler Verity's character, an understanding, awkward, and charming love interest of Sophie's.  Skyler is a future star and Sophie Jones showcases this star potential.  Not only is he a great actor, and a focal point of most of the scenes he is in, but he is also a talented musician who is responsible for the most memorable songs in the film.  I'm looking forward to following his career and seeing where it goes next.  

And the film's story and your emotional connection to the characters are also helped along by Sophie's friend Claire (Claire Manning) and her sister Lucy (Charlie Jackson).  Both of them add a little bit of normalcy to Sophie's life.  The scenes with her friend allow you to see an old relationship and a truly caring person in Sophie's life, someone who wants what is best for her.  And the scenes with Lucy offer a double edged sword, the pure love and connection of sisters at home, but an awkward separation of social circles at school.  And these types of scenes make the film feel that much more realistic and interesting.  It felt unique to see a movie that touches emotional growth and growing up in both an understated and dramatic style.  The situations and encounters feel real and grounded, a testament to the filmmakers and their storytelling.  The film has some interesting and frank conversations about grief, dating, love, and relationships. It is a slow burn that has some truly heart warming and heart wrenching scenes.

However, Sophie Jones is a beautiful and at times engaging film, but it also can occasionally feel like it is stuck in idle.  There are stretches where Sophie is exploring her grief and desires that feel like not much happens.  This makes sense as growth and exploration are slow processes, but just something to keep in mind.  And the film can at other times feel scattershot, as scenes occur with some introduction but not a lot of grounding.  And some beautiful scenes can end abruptly with transitions that feel like there should have been a slightly longer cut before. It makes the film feel disjointed at times, like it is missing some connective tissue tying the story together.  But overall, Sophie Jones paints a complicated and intricate picture of the morass of feelings and emotions that are the hallmarks of growing up and growing into your own, while adding the extra layer of grief to complicate a young adult's coming of age.

Sophie Jones is a complicated and raw coming of age story, with realistic performances by this talented cast and some frank conversations about dating, relationships, and life. 

Watch it.

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Sophie Jones is available on virtual cinema and digitally March 2, 2021. 

For showtimes, via virtual cinema, click here.  For additional information about the film and to rent / buy it, check it out at the links below.

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