It feels so real, and yet so far away. There is nothing more isolating than grief.No one can feel or share the grief of losing a loved one. The bereaved must deal with his or her pain all by herself. In this case, the eponymous Sophie Jones is so locked away in the vault of her misery that she has turned into a singularly selfish my-pain-is-bigger-than-yours monster.
Sophie cannot understand why her father and sister are not as devastated as she is by her mother’s sudden death. It is as if Sophie has decided to inhabit the pain of loss like an igloo in which she is sealed for life. The film tracks down Sophie’s pain and her inexcusably insensitive attitude to those who want to help her get out of it.
There is the earnest boy Kevin (Skyler Verity) who has genuine feelings for Sophie. Their initial encounters are promising. He plays the guitar for her. He offers Sophie her first sexual encounter. But she shoes him away, drives him out of her life, and chooses to squander her adolescence in senseless highly dissatisfying sexual encounters.
This is a film like no other. It is a sad unhappy film about wallowing in misery and not allowing anyone to come near your wounded heart. As played by the unusually natural Jessica Barr, Sophie is impossible to like. Rather than feel sorry for her, I empathized with people around her who must explain to her that they have a different way of dealing with grief. And that just because they are laughing eating and not allowing life to be frozen, it doesn’t mean they are any less wounded.
I believe Jessica Barr and her cousin Jessie (who wrote and directed the film) have used their own experience with bereavement. The narration is non-linear and chaotic, probably so to capture the unique unpredictability of Sophie’s universe. Death has taught her that anything can happen at any time. She has therefore given up on the niceties. She is showing her middle finger to the rulebook of living. Pleasantries bore her and any sign of a committed relationship drives her to another corner.
Sophie Jones is not an amusing diversion for an evening when you are at a loose end. It is an intensely raw and visceral experience where the protagonist’s grief is stripped of grace. What we see is a hurting human being, too far gone to cry. It’s a scary portrait of the isolation of grief, expressing thoughts that are buried too deep for years.
In the end, we see Sophie and her sister on the beach with their father. It looks like Sophie is healing. But I fear that’s an illusion. Her hurt will go on.
Directed by Jessie Barr Sophie Jones gets 3 stars!
Image source: youtube/oscopelabs