A coming-of-age dramedy set against the backdrop of Australia's gorgeous South West; it could only be Jasper Jones.
Based on the novel of the same name by Craig Silvey, Jasper Jones is wholesome film of troubled youth and stolen innocence that starts out sweet before gently adding an edge of darkness; the narrative steers into territory I wasn't expecting at times, often into more unsettling areas - but that's defiantly not a criticism.
It's refreshing to see a film aimed squarely at families and a broad audience that doesn't shy away from hitting you where it hurts or confronting the tricky subjects that plague this fictional rural town - you never know, they might still be relevant nowadays. Better still, Jasper Jones does much more than just tiptoe up to the central themes before retreating; director Rachel Perkins and screenwriter Shaun Grant (along with author Silvey) handle racism, sexism, childhood and responsibility in a mature and measured manner, making for a well-rounded film that can educate audiences as well as entertain.
Collette and Weaving are fabulous in their roles but my pick for the best adult actor in the cast goes to Dan Wyllie as Charlie's quietly-spoken and patient father.
The Verdict: 8.5/10
Jasper Jones is like hearty soup that will warm your heart and leave you with a big dumb grin on your face. It's a simple tale told with aplomb that locals and international viewers will both enjoy and draw different ideas from. If you seek out one Australian film in 2017, you'd be an idiot to look past Jasper Jones.
Jasper Jones is in cinemas across Australia now