Tuesday, 10 August 2010
INTERVIEW: MATCHING JACK
20th Century Fox Films
This is an interview conducted with the film's director Nadia Tass and writer-producer David Parker. The interview also features in the August issue of Cafe Society magazine out this week.
A professional and marital partnership spanning more than a quarter century, Nadia Tass and David Parker know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. As a filmmaking team, responsible for two Australian classics, Malcolm (1986) and The Big Steal (1990), each has clearly defined roles: Tass as director and co-writer, Parker as producer, writer and cinematographer. But theirs is a truly collaborative effort and both agree that humour was the key ingredient for their latest film, Matching Jack.
When a mother (Jacinda Barrett) learns that her young son has Leukemia, she begins a quest to find a compatible bone marrow donor by tracking down the ex-lovers of her unfaithful husband (Richard Roxburgh) in the hopes they may have bore him a child. Matching Jack could well have collapsed under the weight of melodrama or emotional manipulation had Tass and Parker (working from a screenplay by Lynne Renew) not paid as much attention to the funny bone as the tear ducts.
“We read the original screenplay and then David started working on it, and he injected it with a whole lot of humour he knows I can direct,” explains Tass. “It becomes a Tass-Parker type of film, where we’re dealing with a very serious subject matter but it’s couched in humour, it’s delivered with entertainment.”
“We’re there primarily to entertain, and we’re working in a medium that has that ability to actually move people but you don’t want them coming out feeling dejected,” adds Parker. “We like the idea of taking them [the audience] on a journey but in the end you’re up.”
“What I hope is that the film resonates and there are many moments where people are thinking about certain sections of the film and reflecting on issues and, perhaps, it opens up a whole lot of conversation and thought,” Tass admits. “It’s [cancer] so much a part of our world today, we have to incorporate that into our entertainment world as well. Not that we’re going to sit there and laugh at cancer, we’re not doing that, but it exists so we put it into the mix as similar to what exists in real life.”
Matching Jack certainly has its heavy moments and doesn’t skimp on the emotional or physical demands of cancer treatment for all involved. But that humour keeps it from becoming mawkish. “I took the film to New York and Los Angeles and the screenings [with test audiences] were absolutely brilliant, the reaction was great,” Tass says. “We’ve had some test screenings in Melbourne and it’s good to see it with different audiences; there’s a laugh with a particular audience that wasn’t there with the previous audience.”
“It’s always surprising when you’re comparing the two audiences: there are some things that are hilarious to them [Americans] that weren’t even designed to be a joke,” says Parker. Those American audiences laughed in “80 per cent” of the same places as their Australian counterparts, which bodes well for Matching Jack, both here and abroad.