Toxic friendships, romantic infatuations, drugs, crime, spirituality and plenty of risk-taking. These are some of the elements explored by director Charles Henri Belleville as he presents the psychedelic adventure of two British youths on the run. Based on Simon Lewis’s 1998 novel Go, the story follows Lee (Robert Sheehan) and Sol (Osy Ikhile), who seem to be enjoying an idle and idyllic existence in Goa.
Gradually, the background story of the men’s London life emerges through fuzzy but increasingly explicit flashbacks. It transpires that Lee, a former bartender, had made some dealings with a shady club-owner he once worked for. He involves his friend Sol in what appears to be a particularly profitable venture, but things turn sour and spiral out of control. The two escape to India, but even in a remote hut trouble is at their heels: first when they accidentally kill a holy cow, then when they are unexpectedly joined by a former acquaintance, Lee’s love-interest Vix (Sofia Boutella).
This is a film with character, striking in content and bold in its approach. The strong appeal of the three protagonists makes Jet Trash as engaging and seductive as it sets out to be, and Robert Sheehan’s charisma in itself arguably accounts for half the movie’s success. He gives the immature, egocentric Lee just enough softness to win the audience’s sympathy, and builds a refreshingly multi-dimensional lead in a production where action and style could have easily overshadowed sound characterisation.
Lee’s misadventures getting exponentially bigger invite reflection on the helplessness of youth, particularly when one superficially made choice has unexpectedly serious repercussions. Belleville refers to this story as “a love letter to one’s 20s”, and through it he poses a question: how long must one live with the consequences of a mistake?
Dream-like sequences and exotic settings make the film visually captivating. Maja Zamojda’s cinematography deserves a mention as the flamboyant aesthetics, characterised by saturated colours and widescreen shots, lend the feature a distinctive stamp. Granted, this does mean that some parts resemble pop music videos, but considering the mood of the movie and its characters, the flashy effect is not completely amiss.
Jet Trash does have its shortcomings and some passages are not entirely convincing. While it intrigues, it never really blows one away. However, for an independent film on a limited budget and a strict time schedule it achieves more than many major releases, with less than half the fanfare.
Jet Trash is released nationwide on 7th December 2016.
Watch the trailer for Jet Trash here: