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The Independent Critic

Justin Kirk, Olivia Edward, Moses Storm
Kantu Lentz
19 Mins.

 "Jack & Jo Don't Want to Die" Screens as Finalist at Indy Shorts 

Justin Kirk (Weeds) is mesmerizing in writer/director Kantu Lentz's 19-minute short film Jack and Jo Don't Want to Die, the engaging story of Jack (Kirk), who works the night shift at a freezing facility where people choose to halt their lives. Increasingly disenchanted with his own existence, Jack doesn't so much want to die as he simply doesn't care much about existing anymore. 

At least until he meets Jo (Olivia Edward), a terminally ill young girl frozen in anticipation of a cure but unfrozen early due to lack of funds. 

Jack & Jo Don't Want to Die is a beautiful film, Sam Davis's lensing bathing the film in an aura that feels simultaneously warm and institutional, detached yet somehow also intimate. This works beautifully alongside Lentz's script that gradually introduces us to both Jack and Jo, whose stories gradually reveal themselves in a way that feels honest and more than a little heartbreaking. We recognize, of course, that Edward's Jo is a transformational character but Edward nicely brings her to life amidst her own unexpected circumstances. 

However, the focus here is undeniably on Jack and Justin Kirk gives a quietly mesmerizing performance that travels far over the course of the film's well used 19 minute running time. Jack's early melancholy is soulful and deep, though watching him over the course of the film's final couple of minutes is nothing short of exhilarating. 

Ryder McNair's original music serves as the perfect companion to a story that is both sci-fi and richly human as one. Nina Caussa's production design is enveloping and practically filling the silence that Lentz allows to linger between our characters. 

Jack and Jo Don't Want to Die is screening as a finalist during the Indy Shorts International Film Festival going on virtually this year from July 21-26, 2020 in Indianapolis. An Academy Award qualifying festival, Indy Shorts is a production of Indy's own Heartland Film. For more information on the festival, visit the Heartland Film website

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic