By Daniel Mendes, TheCinebuff.com
Jerry is a mild-mannered, soft-spoken Chinese immigrant living in a humble apartment in Orlando, Florida, and enjoying his retirement. Jerry is frequently visited by his three children, and maintains a good relationship with his ex-wife, Kathy. One day, however, he receives a mysterious phone call that upturns his quiet life. The caller informs Jerry that he is a suspect in a money-laundering scheme in Shanghai and must clear his name.
Part documentary and part narrative film, Starring Jerry As Himself manages to balance its various tones to deliver a fun and heartfelt character piece. We can see the film is clearly building up to a big twist, but it manages to keep us guessing. Director Lawrence Chen injects the docu-drama with a style straight out of Three Days of the Condor.
The film’s cinematography deserves equal praise for uniqueness . Jerry’s everyday life is contrasted with the larger-than-life events of the film. We see the events through Jerry’s eyes, his reality and his daydreams blurring the line between real and unreal.
Jerry Hsu’s performance speaks volumes with his silence. We feel his confusion and frustration. Jerry doesn’t have many friends, but he has a family that loves and supports him. We see them in intimate moments that reveal his character. He’s a sympathetic and likable protagonist. Starring Jerry As Himself is an insightful documentary and an exciting spy thriller, with a lot of heart. At its center, it’s about family and legacy. Starring Jerry As Himself will not only thrill you, but leave you emotionally floored.
Starring Jerry as Himself played to sold out crowds at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival. Tune in next week for our interview with director Lawrence Chen and producer Jonathan Hsu. You can follow us here for more film festival coverage and movie news.