Published in 2010, Jasper Jones the novel has established itself as one of the most loved of all local novels – an Australian Southern Gothic where the heat is real, the cicadas loud as the tension builds in the (fictional) West Australian town of Corrigan.
It’s a coming-of-age melodrama and something of a thriller mystery, touching upon the racism and narrow-mindedness of 1960s Australia. The townsfolk are on high alert with the disappearance of schoolgirl Laura. But both indigenous teenager Jasper Jones and his confidant, Charlie, know where she is and think they know what has happened to her.
Sadly, whereas the novel masterfully tells its tale and introduces a wonderful array of characters, director Rachel Perkins (Bran Nue Dae, Radiance) has chosen to race through its telling. The result is a superficial hotchpotch of barely related scenes and events. Young actors Aaron L McGrath (Around the Block) as the barely seen Jasper and Levi Miller (Pan, Red Dog: True Blue) try hard but ultimately they, along with a stellar Australian cast including Hugo Weaving, Toni Collette and Dan Wylie, are wasted.