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Understanding Jane
cast: Kevin McKidd, Ameila Curtis, John Simm, Louisa Milwood Haigh, and Carl Proctor

director: Caleb Lindsay

99 minutes (15) 1998 widescreen ratio 16:9
Guerilla DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by John Percival
This low-budget British film certainly does have some interesting moments but it is ultimately a pedestrian affair. The two scruffy bachelor twenty-somethings, Oz (Kevin McKidd) and Elliot (John Simm), find their 'men behaving badly' (minus the comedy) lifestyle is not all it is cracked up to be. They are apparently unable to attract ladies in the usual way such as pubs or clubs so they opt of responding to a telephone ad, and this is something that they are embarrassed about and find distasteful. However they cannot believe their luck when they see their attractive dates at the restaurant. They are unaware that they are part of a cheesy con by the girls to eat and run without helping pay the bill. The unusually nicknamed girls, Popeye, a squatter, and Dallas, an unbalanced university student, appear to see themselves as super con artists referring their two victims as 'marks'. The two boys, not being as dumb as they look, get revenge by arranging a second date and turning the tables on the girls who, amazingly, fall for it.

Afterwards, the girls attempt retaliation but find themselves intrigued and eventually falling for the boys and their faults. From then on there is an odd journey of sexual dysfunction between Elliot and Popeye, plus rough Scotsman Oz is taken on a rougher journey through student parties, angry ex's and Dallas' odd intention to antagonise Oz. Understanding Jane does attempt to make up for the obvious budget limitations by attempting a character-driven story but while the some interesting points essentially it is not enough to raise this above an average offering. It is essentially ordinary people in pretty much ordinary surroundings. Dallas is the only character of note; obviously troubled, her chaos is hiding something else. The rest of the cast provide little value of their own right and serve only as targets for Dallas to bounce off.

The quality of filming is poor being pretty dark and grainy for the most part. Understanding Jane looks and feels cheap, it has obvious influences from British films like Human Traffic but the story lacks the strength to be anything other than ordinary. John Simm is oddly underused serving only to backup Kevin McKidd's character. Amelia Curtis is relatively watchable as Dallas but she appears to be as confused about her character's mental state as we are.

The only extra on the disc is a 'making-of' documentary.

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