Well Go USA Entertainment
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Suki Waterhouse, Patricia Clarkson, Matt Bomer, Douglas Hodge, Souleymane Sy Savane, Shunori Ramanathan and Joe Egender
Written by Gregory Davis, Peter Nickowitz and Bill Oliver
Directed by Bill Oliver
Jonathan starts with what might be a pretty simple premise, but the complications added to it make the film an interesting psychological drama.
Jonathan (Ansel Elgort) lives a simple, regimented life. After he completes his job at an architecture firm, Jonathan returns to his apartment and watches video of his brother John as he talks about his night and life. It’s a routine existence where both brothers work their routines and leave video messages for the other about their days and the people they run into. What’s not routine is that both brothers are unique personalities living in the same body.
The conceit of the film is that the relationship between Jonathan and Jon isn’t a form of dissociative identity disorder or psychological break. Both Jonathan and Jon are distinct people sharing the same body and the only to allow them to thrive and flourish is to have Jonathan in control from 7am to 7pm and Jon in control at night. A technique Doctor Nariman (Patricia Clarkson) has been developing since she started treating them as an infant. Nariman’s influence on them is interesting. She is too close to the situation and almost seems to treat them like they’re her children rather than patients.
Jon and Jonathan’s orderly existence starts showing cracks when Jon’s nightlife prompts Jonathan to hire a private eye (Matt Bomer) to follow him and discovers that Jon has broken one of their rules and fallen in love with a young woman named Elena (Suki Waterhouse). Jonathan sets out to end the relationship, but Jon’s reaction draws Jonathan closer to Elena and the two begin to fall for each other as well.
The film is a thought-provoking and interesting psychological study. It does take a while to get going, relying too much on its own conceit about the character. When it does start to get going, it becomes something special. The duality between the characters becomes something worth exploring as both personalities fight for dominance. When Jon cuts himself off from communicating with Jonathan, the unique symbiosis of their relationship is threatened and Jonathan’s loneliness leads to him discovering something about his own personal growth.
The film does a good job of showing that there is a difference between Jonathan and Jon through their relationships with the people in their lives. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see that much of Jon and his world except through others. It makes the end of the film almost bittersweet in a sense when the converging and shattering structure of their lives forces them to make a drastic decision.
Jonathan is an inventive and interesting film. It has great performances and an engaging, tragic and touching story once it gets going.