Movie Review: "Jucy" (A Womantic Comedy of Platonic Proportions)

Thanks to Twitter, I discovered the most adorable little Australian independent film called "Jucy" (2010), directed by Louise Alston. Jucy refers to a combination of the names of the two main characters: Jackie and Lucy (played by real life best friends Cindy Nelson and Francesca Gasteen). Jackie and Lucy have been best friends for most of their lives and are now in the mid-20's and working in a video store. Jackie lives alone in her funky apartment and is interested in make-up and fashion. She suffers from some sort of mental illness for which she takes medication and is in therapy (I'm guessing Bipolar Disorder). Lucy lives with her sister and dreams of making it as an actress, but she struggles with her weight and her confidence.

The two friends spend all of their time together,  so much so that they are even accused by an acquaintance of being "straight lesbians" and having a "womance". After a cast party for the local theater group, the two friends wonder if their friendship is keeping them from moving forward in their lives. As a challenge, they decide to find a boyfriend for Lucy and a great job for Jackie before the next cast party in 2 months. Tensions begin to mount when both girls audition for a part in the local production of Jane Eyre. It is revealed that Lucy's last experience on the stage did not go smoothly and old anxieties begin to surface. Meanwhile, Jackie decides on her own to stop taking her psychiatric medication. As she spirals out of control, Lucy realizes that the friendship might not be healthy for either of them. The two "break up" after an explosive fight that results in a few too many truths being revealed.

The film explores the complexities of the bond between female friends as they grow into adulthood. There is a comfort in being with someone who knows you so well that there is a sort of shorthand between you. But there is only so much intimacy that can come of a platonic friendship. At some point, the two friends begin to need more in their lives and it might mean the end of the friendship to make it happen.

The idea for "Jucy" came about after Louise Alston cast best friends Cindy Nelson and Francesca Gasteen in her first feature film. Alston was intrigued by the closeness of the two women and realized a bigger story was there. Alston even began referring to them as "Frindy". In order to develop the story, the two friends spent a lot of time with Alston telling her about the details of their lives. Even though a lot of the film is fictionalized, certain aspects were worked into the script. For example, Cindy (who plays Jackie) was diagnosed with manic depression and social anxiety panic disorder several years ago and was enthusiastic about the chance to accurately portray a young woman with these disorders. Francesca was excited to be able to demonstrate that a woman doesn't have to be defined by her weight; her beauty can come from an inner strength and confidence.

Shot in 14 days in subtropical Brisbane, this little film is a real triumph. I highly recommend this film for anyone who has ever had a best friend. You can watch it now on Netflix Instant streaming video.

Thanks for stopping by and getting buzzed!