Review: Inconsistencies steal ‘2 Jacks’ magic

A scene from "2 Jacks."

Like father, like son. “2 Jacks,” Bernard Rose’s cleverly faithful adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s short story “Two Hussars,” takes place over the course of two wild nights in Hollywood.

In the first, presented mostly in black and white except for some whimsical tinted accents, legendary director Jack Hussar (Danny Huston) sweeps into town to raise money for his next picture, which he’s shooting in the Belgian Congo. Apparently penniless, with a reputation for making movies that don’t make any money, he skates by on the goodwill of sycophants in a Hollywood version of how Hollywood works.

When exactly this takes place is unclear — perhaps purposely so. The Belgian Congo, for example, ceased to exist in 1960, and the women wear flapper fashion (but maybe they’re costumes?) while Jack’s unwitting host wears a T-shirt, hoodie and ball cap.

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Decades later — there are cellphones now, and the picture’s in color — Jack’s namesake son (played by Huston’s nephew, Jack Huston) arrives in Tinseltown to shoot his first film. Feeling just as entitled as his father, though with none of Jack Sr.'s résumé or inherent charm, he woos the daughter of one of his dad’s lovers before squandering any residual goodwill toward his father with bad-boy behavior.

Rose’s Hollywood is a fantasy, one in which final cut is negotiated with a hand of poker, the two Jacks share a producer (Richard Portnow) who doesn’t age a day, and a schlubby wannabe American producer (Dave Pressler) is brother to a glamorous English girl (Sienna Miller) with no explanation as to why they don’t share an accent. Unfortunately, these inconsistencies cause more confusion than the magic Rose is presumably going for.


“2 Jacks”


MPAA rating: None

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Playing: At Downtown Independent, Los Angeles. Also on VOD.