Cloris Leachman, a film legend who sadly passed away earlier this year, couldn’t have selected a more beautiful swan song. Jump, Darling charts a budding actor-turned-drag-queen, Russell (Thomas Duplessie), as he flees to the country home of his sassy grandmother, Margaret (Leachman). He is shocked to find her in relatively steep decline; initially planning to simply have dinner with her and crash for the night, Russell is compelled to stay for a multitude of reasons. Margaret’s deepest fear is to be carted off to a prison-like nursing home (she remarks their balcony is “good for a quick exit”), and Russell is happy to escape a tumultuous relationship in lieu of squatting with his grandma. Over the course of Jump, Darling, we follow Russell and Margaret as their relationship blossoms into something beautiful and profound that deeply effects them both.
Leachman and co-star Duplessie light up the screen, breathing life into a movie both vibrant and bleak. Their interactions with each other were always a joy to watch, and I was interested in every word that left Margaret’s lips after she calls Russell a “prowling son of a bitch” in their first onscreen scene together. A midway moment where Russell and Margaret run into one of her old friends, an insufferable woman bragging about her “many grandchildren,” is made complete when Margaret simply says one word after her friend walks away: “bitch.” A performance set to Rough Trade’s “High School Confidential” is a total blast.
Though some parts are light and uplifting, the ending in particular is heavy with the weight of death and the meaning of life. One second we are having a great time through the vibrance of Margaret and Russell, and the next, it is an emotional drag lip sync performance that is absolutely beautiful. I personally really enjoyed Jump, Darling, and for any fan of Cloris Leachman, this final performance is stunning and majestic. I haven’t been both so heartbroken and overjoyed to see a closing dedication in quite some time: “in loving memory of Cloris Leachman.”
Jump, Darling screened digitally at Frameline 45 Film Festival on Thursday, June 17th, and will be releasing later this year.