Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Joneses (2009) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
An intimate portrait of an American family, The Joneses is a surprisingly uplifting look at life and the way that just getting by can become a special experience in its own right. When first meeting this family, you could be forgiven for thinking they look familiar. They live in a run-down trailer park in southern Mississippi, an ageing mother, her schizophrenic son, her mentally disabled son and their dog.
The mother works and the men mostly stay at home, doing dishes and dreaming of love. But there's a vitality about these people that challenges conventional assumptions, and director Moby Longinotto finds moments of extraordinary beauty in their ordinary existence.
Mother Jheri is one of those people whose love of life seems to surmount all obstacles. Whether she's doing the housework or dancing in the kitchen with the bemused looking family pet, she is endlessly warm and joyful, and the trailer is full of smiles. Even the death of her wife, some years ago, seems more a focus for fond memories for all the family than a cause of ongoing sorrow. It was after this death that Jheri chose to transition physically from male to female, and a period of family estrangement is referred to, but you'd never guess it from the easy way they fit together today.
It's refreshing to see a documentary featuring somebody whose transgender background is treated in an utterly matter of fact way, just one more detail in life's rich tapestry. Humble though they may be, the lives of these people seem endlessly rich, with beautiful sunrises in a big sky, miles of countryside and wide open roads. There are petty squabbles, there's bitching about the state of people's rooms, and Jheri tells some fascinating anecdotes, but the most notable thing about this story is that everything is underscored with laughter.Reviewed on: 22 Oct 2009