Sometimes, the best stories are the simplest? even if they?re told in complicated ways.
Directed by Lindsay Mackay,?The Swearing Jar?tells the story of Simon and Carey (Patrick J. Adams and Adelaide Clemens), 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. Beginning at a celebration of a 40th birthday, the majority of the film is told in flashback with the past slowly catches up to the present. However, transitions are done so fluently that many of the film?s twists and turns remain unpredictable, causing some genuine surprises along the way. 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 Clemens. With humility in her performance, Clemens 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.?
The Swearing Jar is a film which is very much about fumbling through life with the need for grace. In many ways, what?s interesting about the film is that all of its characters are considered to be good-natured yet none of them are entirely blameless. Everyone within Jar has both hurt and been hurt by others. Lies, deceit and even the potential of infidelity all mar the souls of the characters, leaving them caught within complex emotional stress. As a result, every character is simply trying to survive in 2022.
Interestingly, it?s possible that this realization gives more meaning to the titular ?jar? itself. For each curse word, Simon and Carey attempt to clean up their ways by adding five dollars to the jar. It?s a common practice that many couples do before their children arrive. However, from this perspective, perhaps the jar is meant to be some form of recompense for the sins and fears that they make on a daily basis. Like the contents of the jar that await the eventual payoff, each of these characters wants to do the right thing but falters along the way. As such, there?s a whisper of grace as they hope that each of the scars they bear from their past hurts will pay off in the end and allow them to begin again.
Smartly written and sharply executed, The Swearing Jar is not necessarily a film which will burn up a box office filled with superhero films and Oscar nominees. However, there?s no doubt that the charm and wit of this Jar also mean that it should not simply be left on the shelf.
To hear our conversation with Adelaide Clemons, click here.
The Swearing Jar is available in theatres on Friday, November 4th, 2022.