Opening 9 Oct 2014
Jack had its premiere at this year’s (2104) Berlinale, and I had to admit that I thought it was a rerun of the film starring Robin Williams and Jennifer Lopez. Much to my surprise I was faced with the life of a 10-year-old Jack (Ivo Pietzcker) who has taken on the burden of watching over his little half-brother Manuel (Georg Arms) since their young mother Sanna (Luise Heyer) isn’t able to manage it. Sanna loves her boys, but she is like a butterfly and is easily swept off to the next adventure or party without a second thought. It is clear from the beginning that Manuel relies on Jack for everything, and their mother is some sweet person in their lives that makes them feel good but nothing more. At some point Jack makes a mistake and actually hurts Manuel, giving him a bath in water that is much too hot. Sanna is confronted with social services and is forced into making a radical and naïve decision by allowing them to put him in a home.
The environment is not welcoming with a group of bullies; his life seems worse than before, and he is constantly thinking about his mother and his half-brother. When he finally has a fight with one of the boys, he takes off looking for his family. He is quite clever and soon finds his little brother but his mother has vanished from the scene. The two are forced to steal and sleep in strange places on the street and still they wait for their mother’s return.
Director Edward Berger said that the story is actually based on a young boy in his community in Hessen. He was surprised that a Jack character actually does exist, that he attends school and lives in a state-run home and is just trying to get somewhere in life even if the cards look like they are against him.
I was surprised to see that these boys ended in a home even when they had a single mother that financially could hold it together but has some flaw in her personality which led to her to neglect her children. There are many children who end up in these homes and many have suffered abuse beforehand; this movie made me wonder: if they do suffer abuse in these homes, then where can they go to be safe? The child actor Ivo Pietzcker was amazing. He emotionally captured feelings that Jack had been faced with this horrible situation. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)