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Tribeca 2020: “Jack and Jo Don’t Want to Die” (2019) ★★★


Can the suspension of life help resolve a heartbreak, buy time in search of a cure for cancer, or bring back the desire to live in someone who is suicidal? That is food for thought, of course, which, in a way, Kantu Lentz’s “Jack and Jo Don’t Want to Die” offers an insight into.

Jack (Justin Kirk) is on the night of his suspension when he receives the last assignment before halting his own life. Nothing seems to make sense for him as he says determined, “I don’t want to die, but I do not wish to exist either.” All that changes when he reanimates Jo (Olivia Edward), who has terminal cancer.

Set in a dystopian era, Jack’s job is to ensure that he is able to pause people’s lives if they wish to. When he reveals his reasons for ending his own life temporarily, he meets the young Jo, whose only parent passed away. When, after opening her eyes, she learns that her mother died in a car accident and there is no cure for her cancer just yet, the girl, despite all the reasons for her to die, shows Jack that heartbreak is a part of love and because of that suspending one’s life is not a valid reason.

Written and directed by Kantu Lentz, the short “Jack and Jo Don’t Want to Die” is an ambitious film about different realities with an interesting concept. There are no fancy visual effects to capture the magical story of Jack and Jo and how the two learn from each other reasons to live or die. While it is far from being great, the solid performances by its cast eliminate the flaw the story has to turn it into a complete joy, watching it from the start to end.

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