Directed by: Matheus Ronn
Written by: Mans Reimer
Genre: Crime, Noir
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Leaving the viewer confused is never the best option. Especially for any kind of film media. All other production elements aside, I was slightly confused when watching this title. At first. As Jury Duty ended, I had a true few seconds of confusion. Did I miss something? What just happened? As it turned out, I hadn't missed anything at all. Jury Duty was 'intended' to be just what I had seen. A short film with no conclusion. The reasoning was simple. The creative team behind it, Mans Reimer and Matheus Ronn had intended the person watching this short film to solve the mystery. The entire production was set up this way. As interesting as it sounds, this only works when a person 'knows' this. I'll be blunt. Like many people, I never read the description and simply had no idea that I was supposed to conclude the story. Since when is it the viewer's responsibility to research a title 'before' watching it? I literally jumped into Jury Duty, expecting a full film. Not my participation in it. With that said, the concept here is a decent, fresh(er) take on modern media. The problem is that we have to 'know' the rules. Something as simple as some text before the film starts, letting the viewer know they have to solve the case, would do the trick. Did I mention that for the entire movie I kept wondering why it was called Jury Duty?
The murder of Iris Holliday (Nikki Tilmouth) may have shocked viewers watching on television, but for those closest to her, it was really no surprise. She was the very definition of a cruel diva. Using her womanly ways to get what she wanted, and hurting as many people along the way as needed. Selfish, mean spirited and beautiful. The perfect stereotype of a classic wanker. Through the film, we are privy to the police interviews, as well as glimpses of the very scenes being discussed. All this is presented to us viewers by way of classic Hollywood film. Black and white. The visuals may be well done but to be completely honest, there was nothing terribly new. The entire presentation felt a little gimmicky to my eyes, and didn't fare so well on my sixty inch screen. Jury Duty doesn't look 'cheap' or anything of that nature. It's just a shame we couldn't have received the exact same film, cast and narrative, using modern rules and visuals. Jury Duty could have still taken place during the same time period, had the same old styled dialog and acting, and worked just as well. Probably better.
The cast all performed admirably. That funny way of speaking you see within old movies is completely present and accounted for. Tilmouth, along with C.J. Barker, Chris Kohls and Kassie Johnston all nailed their roles as the films leading cast. The looks. The speech and even the attitude. This troupe was not the reason for the slight downturn of this title. Barring the fact I was put off because I didn't know I was supposed to solve the case, Jury Duty tends to ramble a little. The exact same film could have been told in ten to thirteen minutes. I think anyhow. After that, because of the visual nature of the production, it just tends to stretch on and on. Perhaps I would have felt differently had I known what I was supposed to do. Since I didn't, things flowed oddly. I didn't understand the prolonged fascination with the interview style shots. No matter how you slice it, although good enough to be decent, Jury Duty never stepped out of it's shell and never achieved excellence. It could have. Easily. The talent was clear. The slight failure was with the execution. In my eyes.
All in all, this was a really great idea translated decent enough to be decent. I've seen so much worse. I've seen dozens of heavily budgeted studio productions, that I couldn't even sit through. If I had one suggestion it would be to add some form of disclaimer at the start of the movie. It's not the viewer who should have to do their homework, in order to enjoy something. It's the creative team that is responsible for that. For myself, Jury Duty has earned a solid and admirable two and a half stars. The shame is that it could have earned more.