I guess it’s a bit journalistic integrity that pushes me to review the Gail Wagner directed Reprogramming of Jeremy, which made its Delaware premier last night (9 August 2108) at Theater N in Wilmington, Delaware.
It’s kind of weird because Gail is a friend of mine and all I really have to say are good things, so it seems like I am being easy on her. I’m not really.
First let’s start with some technical things. The lighting and sound were first rate. Unlike so many lower budget local films, Reprogramming of Jeremy had excellent sound and lightning. This was key because the subject matter – youth coming of age homosexuality – could be discounted if the technical stuff was cheesy.
Gail’s choice to cut between characters in the film as they told their individual stories relative to Jeremy, was risky as this type of film-making can sometimes cause loss of momentum and defeat the intended dramatic arc. That wasn’t the case here. Ms. Wagner was able to build tension and anxiety.
Though I never read Bobby Keniston’s Play of the same title, which inspired the film, the story moved forward at a good pace. Mr. Keniston made some interesting choices concerning characters being honest with themselves and us.
That part of the film was especially interesting. You couldn’t trust the multiple narrators as each had their own rationalizations about their relationships and interactions with Jeremy. Each had their own guilt, and each had their own fingerprints on the eventual end.
That which goes unsaid in this film is often more powerful, than that which is said; much of the film captures the energy of more is less.
At this point I want to shout out to Gina Olkowski. She is a chameleon and seemingly inhabited her role from first descriptive loving hug to violent momma grizzly when her son was in danger. Everyone was wonderful, but Gina’s portrayal really pulled me in.
Another shout out to Emily Ciuffettelli who played Abby (Jeremy’s best female friend – not girlfriend). Her portrayal of Abby was so sincere and vulnerable, I felt she was one of the few characters in the film with whom I would like to have coffee.
Finally, Marsha Amato Greenspan was appropriately dastardly and evil as the Christian running a gay reprogramming camp. Bravo!
And that brings me to my unfulfilled expectation. The director and script dedicated a lot of time to the life that led to Jeremy’s incarceration at the camp. I only wish more time had been spent here and how it all impacted the films finale.
The Reprogramming of Jeremy is an important film and people should take time and see it. I’m not sure how, or even if, it will be distributed. The thing is, the world is crazy and art like this gives us a grounding – or at least a caution of what we’ve won and what we could lose.