Insufficient both as a drama and in capturing mental instability in a young man, tyro filmmaker Mark Banning’s “Jellysmoke” aims for a good deal more empathy and insight than it is able to produce. Although chosen for Los Angeles fest’s best narrative prize, pic is marked by generally unconvincing perfs, unsteady helming and writing, and a poor technical package that intrudes on complete viewer involvement. Indie fests may put in bids, but theatrical prospects won’t be forthcoming.
Jacob (Michael Ealy), despite his somewhat angelic appearance, is hospitalized in a Gotham psych unit for violent public behavior and is ordered to take strong anti-depressants. Living at home with his mom (Angela Nirvana) and propped with moral support from friend Paul (Andre Royo), Jacob is soon attracted to single mom Cindy (Opal Alladin). Cindy lets a relationship develop against all reason, and Jacob conceals his medical condition from her while unwisely going off his meds. Thesps fail to bond in a way that could transcend script’s failings, and many dialogue scenes in screened print bordered on the inaudible.