By Zoe Turner
Robert Sheehan plays his usual jester role, this time as party-track minded Lee, in a thriller that sees this man’s chaotic past catch up with his carefree lifestyle and turn it upside down. His appearance on the red carpet at the world premiere of Charles Henri Belleville’s new feature saw very much the same person discuss the film with the press, as he struggled to answer any question with even a relatively serious answer.
The narrative of Jet Trash is a choppy one, jumping back and forth from a black-and-white past in London, to a mesmerizingly tinted present in Goa. This is a clever technique designed to keep the viewer on the edge of their seat, as they are constantly having to navigate themselves. It is through these flashbacks that the means to Lee and his friend Sol’s deadly situation are unpacked.
Our protagonist Lee’s playful attitude, from the beginning of the film (spelt out as he mischievously sneaks up to prank his companions and jokes about masturbating to them in the sea), juxtaposes the potential danger that the boys are in as soon as they hear that a woman has come looking for them. His oblivious nature highlights his naivety, only forcing the sense of looming trouble to grow stronger.
Belleville is obsessed with visual and symbolic contrasts in this film, observed as he places lucid festival montages in India, where everything shines yellow and green, side by side with intense bursts of a purple, shadow-tinted history, revealing snippets of drug deals and treacherous relationships. The present action of the film all takes place over Christmas and Boxing Day, with a piano rendition of ‘Oh, Christmas Tree’ being played over some scenes prior to active violence, creating a sense of unease.
When Lee and Sol find themselves in a minor motorbike crash, killing a sacred sow, we are unsurprisingly led back to Lee’s first meeting with the woman from the club, Vix, who tells him that his future is “bleak” without even having to read his cards.
This crash, however, turns out to be the least of Lee and Sol’s worries, in a long, convoluted line of them. The issues these boys face are heavily drug related, and as they continue to sell them in Goa, they can’t escape all that they got messed up in before they fled.
What we learn about their time in London comes in fast and blatant bursts. Lee started dealing for the wrong kind of man, the manager of the Aqua Nightclub, and dragged Sol into the business when he is asked to marry a girl just to keep her in the country to work at the club, also to be abused by the manager, Marlowe.
When Lee also becomes involved with the fortune teller at the club, Vix, and tries to impress her with a car that Marlowe has told him to dump in the sea, they both discover Daisy, the girl that Sol had to marry, in the boot of the car set to drown. Things get deadly from there, when Lee and Sol turn against Marlowe and attack him, which is the last time we see of them together in London.
It is Vix who has come to find the boys in Goa under Marlowe’s command for revenge; Sol is immediately suspicious of her presence, while Lee is infatuated, but while Vix is too, she is also hiding her primary reason for tracking them down, reluctant herself for Marlowe to actually find them.
While Jet Trash is rich with characters, layers and complications, the delivery of these aspects can come across as lazy; everything is spelt out for the audience immediately, with Sol and Lee discussing a woman who has come to find them in the first few minutes of dialogue.
If you’re looking for a film that will get you thinking philosophically, Jet Trash is not the one, but if you enjoy cheap-thrill rides and striking, conflicting visuals, then take a seat. Belleville must have had you in mind.