Directed by Lindsay Mackay, The Swearing Jar tells the story of Simon and Carey (Patrick J. Adams and Adelaide Clemons), a young couple who are awaiting the birth of their first child. The two have a strong relationship but, like all relationships, they struggle with some heated, hurtful arguments. These fights are often augmented by Simon’s difficult mother, Bev (Kathleen Turner) who has a way of ruining the most joyful of conversations with a sneer or hurtful reminder of the past. This tension becomes greater when Carey meets Owen (Douglas Smith), a handsome bookstore clerk to whom she is instantly attracted. As flirtation creeps into their relationship, Carey struggles to know how to manage her life of half-truths and innocent deceit.
Written by Kate Hewlett, The Swearing Jar is a charming romantic melodrama that tells itself so creatively that one can’t help but be caught up in it. With a smart script and solid storytelling, Jar takes a complex storytelling device and makes it feel seamless. Although the film is structured as a “will they won’t they“ tale, the viewer often questions who ‘they’ actually are at the end of the film.
Anchoring the film of some wonderful performances by its leads, especially Clemons. With humility in her performance, Clemons has wonderful chemistry with everyone on screen and keeps the film from losing its way. What’s more, although she remains in a supporting role, veteran Kathleen Turner never allows her limited screen time to prevent her from making her presence felt. With a quiet strength, Turner imbues her character with an inner hurt that makes her fascinating to watch.
Smartly written and sharply executed, The Swearing Jar is not necessarily a film which will be most noteworthy in a festival of over 200 films. However, there’s no doubt that the heart and wit of this Jar also mean that it should not simply be left on the shelf.
The Swearing Jar is now playing at TIFF ’22. For screening information, click here.