On the 9th December, Jet Trash came to Cardiff VUE cinema for a screening and exclusive Q+A with Casper Lee. We sent Joe Fletcher and Maddy Steele along to give us their two cents on this new indie film. Check the trailer out here.
A play on ‘jet set’, Jet Trash is definitely not a desired outcome for a seemingly tranquil holiday destination. The screenplay follows the story of two friends – Lee and Sol – escaping a mysterious past in the city; images of this life in the underground drug culture of the city side wind the snaps of the coasts of Goa. When old habits of dealing, drinking and violence rekindle, their undercover is unveiled and their past enemies come to seek revenge instigating the revival of their past way of life.
Where palm trees replace Christmas trees, India is an odd yet original setting for an arguably Christmas film however this setting adds to the chaos and mystery of the plot. Jet Trash is a film of vivid colours, completely fitting for its setting which truly captures the culture of India. The frequency of sexual and physical violence unveils the terrifying yet realistic dark side of India as a party destination. Slow motion is deployed throughout demonstrating the disorientating and hallucinogenic effects of drugs which aid the trip of the film; at points, as a viewer, you start to question which parts of the film are actually real life as opposed to just part of Lee’s imagination.
Lee’s dangerous seductive dreams of drugs and money are an attempt to free him from his grievances of the loss of his twin brother lead the protagonists into a series of problems and close encounters with friends-turned-enemies, fake police and eventually the sleazy nightclub and people trafficker Carl. Lee’s foolish efforts to live up to his passed twin brother lead them into difficult situations which are only worsened by Lee’s messed up past. Danger threatens its resurface as secrets start to spread about their reasons for hideaway when beautiful Boutella comes in search of the boys. This arises more questions that are left unanswered as the search for the boys finalises with the intense near death of Mike and Lee. Their undercover is blown and their misdoings at the London nightclub Agua are revealed.
Lee’s character provides the quick wit, however this becomes distasteful towards religion at times along with the unconvincing personality switching of Mike, the zen-centred Monk with a violent and suicidal twisted persona. This confusing and almost unnecessary character contrasts to the strong central friendship of the protagonists which seems to be more of an owed than wanted friendship on Sol’s behalf. The film uses the contrast of Indian religious discipline with the wild life of drugs and alcohol, this is humorous at times however I must question the whole scenario with the cow?
The script is clever, only allowing pockets of information to surface before we are led into confusion again. Gradually via flashbacks we discover the world that Sol and Lee have ran away from and the people trafficking side-line sleazy club owner Carl runs however, cleverly; the distinction between real life and fearful hallucinations is unclear. The striking divisions in the bright lights of the city and vast barren landscapes of southern India are reconnected by the inescapable drug underworld the protagonists find themselves in when attempting to flee that in London. This acts as a reminder of the risks of entering a criminal lifestyle and the inescapability from the vicious circle of gangs and guilty money.
An edge-of-your-seat finale is provided when family links are uncovered introducing fatherly conflict between yet-to-mature Lee and the dangerous club owner. This story is an eye-opener to the modern day drug culture and an insight into the slippery slope of association with gangs, drugs and dodgy deals. This intense thriller keeps the characters always just a step away from danger and the audience guessing and re-guessing from the word ‘trash’.
Being in a completely empty cinema auditorium is quite spooky – the 5 minutes for which I was alone on Friday night (before being joined by one other person) prior to a screening of indie movie Jet Trash, were sadly to be the most rousing of my whole evening. The film, starring Robert Sheehan (the Irish guy from Misfits) and Osy Ikhile, is based on Simon Lewis’s book Go.
Sheehan plays Lee, a young twenty-something apparently modelled on Jack Sparrow, who moves to Goa with best-pal Sol (Ikhile) in an effort to escape his chequered past back home. This past is revealed to us in cut scenes, through which we are introduced to Lee’s old boss and bad-apple Marlowe (Craig Parkinson). As a villain he’s about as threatening as Dick Dastardly (and far less convincing).
There is very little in the film to justify its existence; it isn’t fast-paced or inventive enough to function effectively as a thriller, nor does it possess any clear wider-context or message. Instead, I was left grasping helplessly at some weird religious imagery: provided by (in order of appearance) Lee’s other friend Mike – a committed Buddhist-convert slash schizoid-maniac – and a cow. Behind all this is a perpetual soundtrack of monotone trance-like music, daring you to glean something from the jumble. In an interview (done, for some reason, by youtuber Caspar Lee) shown afterwards, Sheehan states that the film’s name is the opposite of ‘Jet-set’ – Jet Trash being, basically, those who travel the world on a shoestring budget. We can only speculate how much head-scratching and meditation it took to arrive at this title.
Inevitably, Lee’s past catches up with his present and – also inevitably – the finale is predictable and forgettable. Finally, just as the curtain is drawing, we do get a few genuinely stirring moments but it’s not enough to atone for the previous seventy confusing and rather dull minutes. There is some nice scenery, though.
Maybe the film, more specifically Lee, is a parody (or a warning) to fellow ‘Jet Trash’. He travels to India, lets his hair grow (razors and scissors being antithetic to the free spirit, of course) and lives on mealworms and cocaine. He remains, however – as if a personal challenge unto himself – irritating to the last, as well as empty (much like the film) and, surprisingly and ironically, rather unworldly. Ultimately, Sheehan and the clearly-talented cast are wasted on a poorly edited, poorly-scripted and largely forgettable muddle.