Jumpin’ At The Boneyard – Fine script/direction from Jeff Stanzler (a film with Tim Roth)
A good drama is rare. I do so appreciate films with stories which are realistic and break the mold.
Such is Jumpin’ at the Boneyard, another excellent film written and directed by Jeff Stanzler (also the writer/director of the good film Sorry, Haters in 2005). This one, from 1992, is a look into the lives of two brothers, one (Manny/Tim Roth) having typical difficulties following a hostile divorce, and the other younger (Danny/Alexis Arquette) with a serious drug addiction. Danny’s partner, Jeanette, is played by the late Danitra Vance.
The story centers on Manny’s loving attempt to help his brother become willing to try and rid himself of the addiction, and that attempt spans visits to their old Bronx stomping grounds growing up (including a visit to the cemetery they once played in which now has a grave Danny is unaware of but which will become part of his trying to understand what he wishes his life to be.) The core of this poignant story: the love which resides, despite all appearances, that can reach someone no matter how lost they currently are.
It’s a realistic, serious, and sad story…while simultaneously fostering an encouraging hopefulness throughout. One can feel the despair Manny experiences realizing his brother is so far down as to actually want to steal from him rather than make it known he needs help, and the despair of being the only son relating to their mother who has just about given up all hope of ever having her younger son return into their lives. To Manny, healing of his younger brother, and healing for his mother’s relationship with Danny, are so important as to give all he has – himself – in an effort to bring all closer together in a healthy relationship.
There are bits of humor intertwined in this relatively bleak story (bleak both in the circumstances both brothers are experiencing and in the excellent filming of the bleak surroundings of the area in which they had grown up), perfectly executed to lift the viewer and bring a closer empathy to both brothers, especially Manny – one begins to sense themselves the accumulating gratification as the tenacious brother begins to see a chance that his drug-addicted brother may choose wellness, if only Manny remains constant in his evening and day spent with his now forlorn brother, which he certainly does.
Some great scenes between Manny (Roth) and the youth services director (Samuel L. Jackson), and between Roth’s character and his ex-wife played by Elizabeth Bracco – a scene which is just heartbreaking as Manny is delighted to see his young son and introduce him to his brother but quickly is confronted by his ex.
Jumpin’ At The Boneyard is an excellent drama – I highly recommend it.