Jessica Chastain is a beautiful actress. She makes her debut in Dan Ireland’s Jolene, based on E.L. Doctorow's short story “Jolene: A Life.” The film was made in 2008 but is only being released in theaters now. Chastain has long red hair, wide eyes, and an even wider smile. She is Jolene, of course, and she is appealing. Her presence makes the film appealing.
Unfortunately, Chastain’s charisma is not enough to carry the movie, the story of a teenage orphan who travels across the country, falling in and out of bed with various, always unsuitable men. Her lovers are young and old, frequently already married, occasionally disreputable, and in one case, violent. In an other case, female. Dermot Mulroney, Rupert Friend, Chazz Palminteri, and Michael Vartan are some of the men who bed her.
In the end, neither Jolene’s moments of joy or heartbreak register on an emotional level. The men in her life are little more than cartoon characters. In fact, the film, while intentionally comic, seemed much like a poorly drawn cartoon instead of the insightful portrait it was intended to be.
Starring: Dermot Mulroney, Michael Vartan, Denise Richards, Jessica Chastain Directed by: Dan Ireland Produced by: Riva Yares, Zachary Matz Running Time: 1 hr. 49 min. Release Date: October 29, 2010 (limited)