Jump Tomorrow review

Instantly charming and fabulously feelgood, Joel Hopkins' romantic road movie is a guaranteed happy pill. Marrying sly wit to gentle sentimentality in an understated, perfectly-paced package, he makes his feature debut look like the handiwork of a seasoned veteran.

Never pounding gags to a pulp or trying to impress with flashy camera skills, he gently nudges his characters together as they cross an ever-so-slightly off-kilter America, full of `60s-style white-walled apartments, bizarre love motels and displaced foreigners (none of Hopkins' lead characters - - French Gerard, Spanish Alicia, Nigerian George and English Nathan - - are native-born Americans).

Tunde Adebimpe is a real find. Whether he's trying to learn Spanish off a tape, dealing with Gerard's well-meaning attempts to set him up with other women or convincing a wannabe suicide that he can always jump tomorrow, the bear-like George is a misunderstood dreamer, bound in a slightly-too-small polyester suit and tie. As George slowly loosens up and learns to relax, you'd need the hardest heart in the world not to wish him well.

The brittle, twitchy Hippolyte Girardot (a man apparently made up entirely of knees and elbows) is the ideal foil for the hulking, restrained Adebimpe. As they hit the road together, their slow-burning friendship breeds more gentle smiles than it does belly-shaking laughs, but there are an awful lot of those smiles to be had.

With the gorgeous Natalia Verbeke as the object of George's affection, some beguilingly idiosyncratic support and the most heartwarming of endings, Jump Tomorrow is guaranteed to send you into the night with a big, happy idiot grin plastered all over your face.

A subtle script and smart performances combine to create a surprisingly touching road movie that delivers a gently off-beat blend of wit, wisdom and romance. Writer/director Joel Hopkins and his cast deserve a great big slap on the back.

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