Jamie Marks Is Dead
Director: Carter Smith
Writer: Carter Smith
Based on: Christopher Barzak‘s novel One for Sorrow
Cast: Cameron Monaghan, Morgan Saylor, Noah Silver, Judy Greer, Liv Tyler
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
[Reviews by cornholio and Maynard Morrissey.]
In a small town, the body of teenager Jamie Marks (Noah Silver) is found by school mate Gracie (Morgan Saylor). Even though nobody really interacted with Jamie when he was alive, popular Adam (Cameron Monaghan) takes an interest in him and Gracie now. That’s when Jamie starts to appear to him and basically moves into his closet. Gracie – who sees Jamie as well – distrusts the ghost, but Adam is fascinated by him, despite his equally strong connection to Gracie.
Jamie Marks is Dead has and interesting take on ghosts, but unfortunately too much is left unexamined, leaving the audience confused, disconnected from the events and characters, and ultimately bored.
I can imagine that One for Sorrow is an interesting read and I am tempted to check it out just to get a little more clarity about the film. Because to me it felt like they had a long script and then they just skipped every second page of it to make a normal-length feature. I assume that a lot was lost in the translation from book to movie (unless the book is equally confusing and just throws things at you without giving any kind of explanation. Like why ghosts get high on words).
Which is too bad because I would have been very interested to understand how ghosts work in the world. They’re completely corporeal, but can only be seen by certain humans (do they choose who they show themselves to?). They travel through cupboards. Some have to relive their death all the time, others don’t. And, as I said, there is some weirdness with words. But the film explains none of this. In fact, it’s barely an issue at all. It’s just the way it is, so you better accept it.
But the confusion wasn’t the only thing that didn’t work about the film. The dialogues were at times really bad, the acting rather mediocre. The characters I took the most interest in – Adam’s mom and her new-found friend (Liv Tyler and Judy Greer) where hardly featured. How Jamie died is treated as a big secret, but it’s completely obvious. And the entire subplot revolving around Frances didn’t want to fit in with the rest of the film. And what the fuck is it with that deer hanging from the basketball basket?
In the end, the film was so unsatisfying and vague in such a calm way that I couldn’t even muster the energy to be annoyed about it. I just ended up being bored.