The film, based on the stage play by Daniel Pearle, is a much needed character piece that explores an issue that is not often talked about in film; gender identity. It is also the brainchild of actor Jim Parsons. Parsons apparently had been familiar with the original stage play, and was so moved by the subject matter, that he championed the film into production. The result is one of the most well-written and passionate pieces of dramatic cinema to grace the screen this year.
One of the real challenges of this film was finding a way for Jim Parsons to distance himself from his role as Sheldon on the beloved sitcom, The Big Bang Theory. When the film first opens, it seems like this is an impossible task; yet as the story slowly progresses, you begin to peel off any preconceptions you may have of Parsons and begin to allow him to flourish in this new role. Danes, who has proven her dramatic chops time and time again puts on a moving performance as the conflicted though sometimes unlikeable mother of Jake.
Obviously Danes and Parsons are the main draw for a film like this, yet is the film’s supporting cast that really makes this film such an enjoyable watch. Octavia Spencer completely steals the show at every opportunity and really is the rock that holds this film together. A Kid Like Jake also features outstanding performances by Ann Dowd and Priyanka Chopra.
In a world where the screen is dominated by comic book movies and half-hearted rehashing of old ideas, a film like A Kid Like Jake is a welcomed source of relief. It’s a film that is constantly delving into unexplored territory that features immaculate writing and heart-breaking performances by all all concerned. Thought it’s probably not the best film to see at 9:00am (the time in which most of Sundance watched it), it is certainly a film that you can’t afford to miss.