SEE JACK RUN
Australia, 1992, 80 minutes, Colour.
Trent Mooney, Molly Brumm, Peter Docker.
Directed by Stephen Amis.
See Jack Run is a small-budget Australian telemovie, made by the Open Channel of Melbourne. Based on a play, it focuses on a teenager who has learning difficulties as well as coming from a difficult social background. He tells a story of a fantasy of going to Africa throughout the film - a kind of chorus focusing on his ambitions and potential. However, the facts of the story concern his being at school, his inability to read, his covering up, his being befriended by a teacher who wants to teach him to read, the disregard of the science master and sports master. It also involves teenage friendships and relationships, a teenage pregnancy, drug problems.
The film is unevenly acted, shows signs of small-budget production values - however, it holds the interest and is certainly a useful discussion film for teenage audiences and parents.
1. Impact of the telemovie? Small budget and style? Its limitations? Better than its limitations or not?
2. The use of Melbourne city locations, the views of the bay, school, streets? The atmosphere of school? The bowling alleys? The musical score?
3. The title - and its general tone with the use of the name Jack for the character Brian Johnson.
4. The framework of the film: Brian talking, at the bay, telling of his dream, going across the sea, to Africa? Being taught by his memories? The role of the witchdoctor? The plant, the dead child and the gift of life? An allegory for what happened to Brian?
5. Brian's story: his family background, his brother and the drugs, the rough life, the violence? His former school, not being able to read, leaving the school, his prospects?
6. Brian at school: at play, the fights in the yard? Steven and his attack on him? Going to the headmaster, his inability to read the rules, their being read to him? The meeting with Jan, her help? His lies about his age and background? His own cry for help, wanting to learn?
7. Brian and his friendship with Karen, going out with her, visiting her family, the bowling alley, the sexual relationship, her pregnancy, the worries? Going to the house, with the drugs, trying to cover up, the police at the bowling alley, Karen and her friend, the lies? Planning to go to Sydney? At the station, the meeting with Karen's parents and their understanding approach?
8. Difficulties at school, the decision to leave and to get some work, the headmaster giving him Jan's letter and his reading it, Jan coming in? Her help?
9. Brian at work, responsibility, earning his living? Karen and her liking Romeo and Juliet? Brian and his learning to read the play?
10. The headmaster, his running of the school, attitude towards the children, towards the staff? His reading the rules to Brian? His treatment of Brian? Supporting Jan? His not supporting Steven? Steven as sports master, literally wanting the rules to be obeyed, union rules, especially about justice and giving time to all students? His criticisms of Jan? Jan and her teaching, writing the thesis, studying Brian? Her work with Brian and its bearing fruit?
11. The portrait of Karen, teenager, family background, supportive parents, the father as a Catholic social worker? Her friend? With Brian, the sexual encounter, the pregnancy and having to cope? The response of her parents?
12. The variety of issues raised and explored: social issues, education issues, employment issues? A critique of the social situations of the '90s? Prospects for teenagers?