The film is a family affair, directed by Jessie Barr and written by Jessie and her cousin Jessica, who also stars in “Sophie Jones” as the titular teenager. The Barrs drew on their own personal experiences of teenagers who have each lost a parent to cancer, and the result is that “Sophie Jones” feels deeply authentic in her understanding of grief. There are no big eruptions here, no massive emotional moments. Instead, “Sophie Jones” rejects linear storytelling to function more as a series of vignettes, spanning roughly two years, that follow Sophie as she struggles to mourn her mother, develop her own personality, and explore her gender identity. . We leap forward sometimes days, sometimes weeks, sometimes months, but the goal is always two-fold: the inner sadness that Sophie rarely carries with someone else, and the outer sexual confidence – the cutting edge. feet in aggression – which she displays by jumping from guy to guy.
On the one hand, it centers Jessica Barr’s organic and naturalistic performance, allowing the actress to work through the myriad oppositional complexities of grief and desire. When we meet Sophie, she opens the bag of her mother’s ashes, sifts them with her fingers, and puts some in her mouth (a tic that she will use as a defensive mechanism throughout the film, also with blood). Is it macabre that in the next scene, she slips on lip gloss and sucks on a lollipop while also coming up with a hookup arrangement with her classmate Kevin (Skyler Verity)? Perhaps! But that kind of hesitation is Sophie’s new normal. She didn’t take drugs, drink or self-harm, she tells therapist – but what she doesn’t share is that her sexual experimentation is worth her a certain reputation.
No interaction is exactly the same. There’s Kevin, who clearly has feelings for Sophie that go beyond their relationships; she stops him. There is a senior who tells a friend of a friend that he thinks Sophie is cute; suddenly she plans to lose her virginity with him. There is Sophie’s closest friend, who has been by her side for years and has never moved – but whom Sophie tries to forcefully kiss in her car. Sophie’s grief and her sexual choices are likely related, as Sophie’s worried best friend Claire (Claire Manning) suggests, but Sophie doesn’t care about being looked down upon by her classmates. What if the other girls laughed at her? So what if some random acquaintance pulls her away to tell her that she is embarrassing herself? Could all of this really be any worse than losing your mother? “Sophie Jones” does not fear Sophie’s reactions, but she refuses to judge her either.