Slow Burn Drama ‘Jess’ Heats to Boiling Point (Trinidad and Tobago)

Julien Neaves, Caribbean Head Writer

Marriage is not easy, but it takes work.

Editor Jules

I was reminded of this quote (which coincidentally I said earlier today) after watching Trinidad and Tobago drama short Jess. The 2017 film was the directorial debut of Aaron Caruth and tells the story of married couple Jessica (Khadijah Glasgow) and David (Kevin Nurse). These two didn’t put the work in, or not enough, as their marriage is falling apart, David is openly cheating, and their interactions range from thinly-veiled resentment (like plastic wrap thin) to shouting matches. Caught in the crossfire of words is their young daughter Salome (Kioni Isaac).

Mummy, Daddy, stop fighting!

Jess is an intimate tale, with the only characters the above three mentioned. And it is a very contained one as well, with most of the action happening inside the family car. With these types of set-ups your dialogue and performances have to be strong, and thankfully that is mostly true here. Glasgow and Nurse are believable as a couple at the end of their ropes, and their brutal barbs are at times tragic-comic and other times simply tragic. The anger and frustration continue to rise as time progresses, leading to a boiling point.

The person I felt sorry for the most was their daughter, who is subjected to some very adult subject matter punctuated with quite colourful language. I try not to be too hard on child actors, but Isaac didn’t sell it for me. With more internalising of the material and externalising in her facial expressions she could have added a much needed layer of pathos to the proceedings. It is my only major nitpick of the film, which is well made from a technical standpoint and features engaging performances. Even the ending went where I hoped it would go, and that pleased me to end. So yeah, Jess is worth paying a visit to.

Editor Jules’s Score: 7 out of 10

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Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.

You can watch Jess for yourself for free on Caribbean Cyber Stream by clicking here. And you check out more Caribbean short film content below:

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