Jungle

 

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A young man seeks adventure and finds more than he had bargained for.

 
Jungle

Daniel Radcliffe

 

The jungle of the title is in Bolivia and the source of this film is a book by Yossi Ghinsberg. As a youngster, Yossi, played here by Daniel Radcliffe, set out in 1981 to seek adventure, so it is appropriate to have Radcliffe play this character given that in his career post-Harry Potter he has become an actor who readily invites young audiences to identify with his roles. Although Yossi is the central figure in this true tale, the enterprise that he undertook found him in the company of two other young men, the photographer Kevin Gale (Arthur Russell) and the less intrepid Marcus Stamm (Joel Jackson). However, the man who caught Yossi's imagination with his tales of a hidden world waiting to be discovered was the older Karl Ruprechter (Thomas Kretschmann), so it can be said that he was the one who instigated what proved to be a decidedly hazardous trip.

 

Jungle is, in essence, a film in two parts. As the four men travel out from La Paz by land and by water into the relative unknown, their story prompts thoughts of such great filmed dramas of exploration as those two Herzog classics Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre, Wrath of God. But, not altogether surprisingly, the comparison underlines the fact that, as written by Justin Mojo and directed by Greg McLean, Jungle is strictly junior school stuff. Nor need one go back so far to think of a film that shows this one up: when it comes to shooting the rapids, McLean relies so much on editing that it feels far less authentic than The River Wild (1994).

 

Those unfamiliar with the titles mentioned may more easily embrace Jungle but, be that as it may, its second half is not at all sure-footed. This half finds Yossi alone and lost in the jungle where he survives for longer than anybody would have anticipated. Cinema is not without an occasional dead narrator but, in addition to introducing his own story at the start, Yossi is the author of the book on which this film is based so there is no suspense as to his ultimate fate. Instead the film seeks to portray Yossi's desperate state by incorporating hallucinations along with brief flashbacks to his earlier days and bizarre fantasy images accompanied by pop song or even by Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks! Just how bathetic this becomes is all the clearer because this section brings to mind one of Radcliffe's most adventurous recent choices, 2016's Swiss Army Man. Despite his good efforts, Jungle seems feeble by comparison, although some viewers prepared to settle for a more conventional and less truly imaginative work may find themselves engaged by Jungle. But, if the film has any claim to fame, it probably lies in the fact that it is a co-production between Australia, the UK and Colombia.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Thomas Kretschmann, Alex Russell, Joel Jackson, Yasmin Kassim, Luis Jose Lopez, Lily Sullivan.

 

Dir Greg McLean, Pro Greg McLean, Dana Lustig and Gary Hamilton, Screenplay Justin Monjo, from the book by Yossi Ghinsberg, Ph Stefan Duscio, Pro Des Matt Putland, Ed Sean Lahiff, Music Johnny Klimek, Costumes Vanessa Loh.

 

Storybridge Films/Emu Creek Pictures/Screen Australia/Dana Lustig Productions/Hamilton Entertainment-Signature Entertainment.
115 mins. Australia/UK/Colombia. 2017. Rel: 20 October 2017. Cert. 15.