Matching Jack Review

A woman resorts to desperate measures to save her sick son’s life in Matching Jack, a new drama from Australia.

Marisa (Jacinda Barrett) and David (Richard Roxburgh) are married with a young son, eight-year old Jack (Tom Russell). However, the family is turned upside down when Tom is diagnosed with leukaemia. Neither Marisa nor David are a suitable match for a bone marrow transplant which could save Jack’s life. So Marisa finds a desperate solution – contacting any woman the philandering David has had an affair with over the last decade and a half, in the hope that Jack may have a half-sibling out there…

Matching Jack is the first cinema film in twelve years for the partnership of Nadia Tass and David Parker. Partners in life as well as in filmmaking, they both produce, she directs and he doubles as scriptwriter and DP. (Lynne Renew receives an original story and co-screenplay credit.) I have been known to be moved to tears at films, and there’s no doubt that there will be many out there whom Matching Jack will have that effect on. Yet, despite its certainly being well made and well acted, it left me dry-eyed, and that may be because it’s entirely predictable from beginning to end. As soon as they appear on screen, you can tell who is going to end up with whom, and which character might as well have “Second Act Climax” stamped across his forehead. And you have to wonder how many extra-marital affairs David has had over the years without Marisa seemingly suspecting a thing.

This is a pity, as the film has a strong cast. Jacinda Barrett is herself Australian, but this is her first film in her native country. She does fine work, holding the film together more than it might otherwise have been. Richard Roxburgh has a more thankless role, tending to fade into the background somewhat, and James Nesbitt overdoes the Irishry as Connor, the father of another leukaemia patient that Marisa and Jack meet at the hospital. That patient is Finn, played by thirteen-year-old Kodi Smit-McPhee, who after Romulus, My Father and The Road is proving himself an increasingly impressive young actor. He gives Tom Russell (from Last Ride) a run for his money. In smaller roles you can find Colin Friels as a doctor and Julia Blake as Jack’s grandmother.

Matching Jack is a good-looking film with its heart so much in the right place that I wish I’d liked it more than I did. But while it kept my attention, it never surprised me, and that’s the problem I had with it.

Matching Jack is currently on release in Australia. It is not yet known if it will have a UK release.


Updated: Sep 04, 2010

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