Movie Review: Dear Jack

dearjackFilm: Dear Jack
Genre: Documentary
OUT NOW [Buy on Itunes for $9.99]

Anyone in the current music “scene” has probably at least heard a song by Andrew McMahon. Whether it comes from his days with Something Corporate or his more recent incarnation Jack’s Mannequin, he’s produced some of the most anthemic and dare I say iconic pop rock tracks of the past 10 years. I know more people who claim to love “Konstantine,” a seven minute [plus] length track with mainly only piano accompaniment than love some hit tv shows. He’s a legend to many and still in his twenties, but it’s his battle with Leukemia that the focus of the newly released documentary, Dear Jack.

In 2005, just as Jack’s Mannequin was gearing up to release their debut record, Everything in Transit, McMahon was diagnosed with Leukemia and in an attempt to document what was happening to him in this process, McMahon turned on his camcorder and began to create a visual journal. Dear Jack is the culmination of these videos with, of course, added visual aides, interviews, etc. Fans have been waiting years to see this footage, but is there any value to this film for those perhaps not so into the work of Andrew Mcmahon?

The answer is an astounding, no second guesses, yes. These video diary clips are some of the most intimate bits of footage of the human condition you’ve ever seen. McMahon chooses to record at points in his struggle that most wouldn’t even share with people they’ve known for their entire life. He doesn’t just welcome us into his world, but shows us his soul and the pain he suffers at point blank range with no holds barred. Add to this a slew of McMahon’s closest family and friends sharing their first hand accounts of Andrew’s struggle and suddenly you feel like you’re there, in each and every hospital room and test with them. It’s captivating and moving from the first frame.

In terms of the overall look of the film, it’s generally a bit shaky as it is mainly footage shot on a handheld camera, but it looks quite nice. Some touch up work probably went a long way. In addition, the accompaniment and cut sequences of performance footage all flow and sound nicely. It’s apparent throughout that McMahon spent a lot of time on this project and to see it’s final product turn out so nice is really great to see.

Even if you’re not a fan of Andrew McMahon’s body of music, there is something more than inspiring to be seen in Dear Jack. Never has the world of a Leukemia patient and their family and the struggle of that group of people been so beautifully and openly displayed. It’s engaging and moving while never feeling an ounce dishonest. This is emotion at it’s most barren and it is wonderful.

Score: 9/10

James Shotwell
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