Although it aims to be a quirky transatlantic romantic comedy slash coming-of-age dramedy, Every Jack Has a Jill is sorely disappointing in most departments and many will find it difficult to embrace.
When Jack (Justin Bartha) wins a trip for two to Paris, he offers to take his partner only for her to dump him and move out of their shared apartment. Deciding to go on the trip despite his heartache, Jack arrives in Paris only to find his bag has gone missing en route, and he will need to wait in his hotel room for its delivery. Meanwhile, Chloe (Mélanie Laurent) is working as a journalist but is unable to relate truly to people, preferring to stay in and watch mountains of dvds rather than interact with anyone real. When Jack’s bag is delivered to her apartment in Paris, Chloe and Jack seem destined to meet.
Given the delightful charm of actors Laurent and Bartha, it seems remarkable that neither of their characters is especially engaging, and yet this is the main flaw in a film that truly needs the audience to be won over by its leads. Chloe is written in such a fashion as to be rather unaccessible, and scattered moments where she shines are so rare that I found it hard to be invested in her struggles. Similarities with the title character in Amelie make Chloe even more disappointing, given the natural appeal of Audrey Tautou in the role that made her a star. Jack is so shut off, meanwhile, that most will find him difficult to like, and his transition to romantic dreamer just isn’t believable. Bartha starred in the massive hit The Hangover, but fans of that film will be disappointed if they shell out for this. The actions of both characters – but particularly Chloe, whose decisions when confronted with Jack’s suitcase border on the incomprehensible – are often so silly or unrealistic that the characters are yet more unengaging.
The film takes its sweet time getting to the point of the matter, and then too quickly introduces a relationship crisis for the characters to endure – it’s as though writer/director Jennifer Devoldère didn’t wish to be bound by the narrative conventions of the romantic comedy genre but then at the last minute she reneged on her plan; sadly by then the film was already mostly in the can. It comes off as poorly timed, with a prolonged first act that takes up most of the screen-time followed by rushed second and third acts that aren’t given anywhere near their due.
Although there is a certain appeal in seeing Laurent in another film after her stunning introduction to non-French audiences in Inglourious Basterds, I simply could not shake the sense of disappointment I felt as Every Jack Has a Jill unfolded. That a film with the French title Jusqu’à toi (“Until You”) has been given such a strange English title is altogether curious and, unfortunately, close to the most interesting thing about it.Rating: