Jailbait (2004) Poster

(2004)

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9/10
A three strikes offender becomes dominated by his cell mate in every way
kevbernt28 August 2006
This movie is extremely good, with pitch-perfect performances by Stephen Adly Guirgis and Michael Pitt. I mean, this ain't Christmas WITH THE KRANKS, and it can be difficult to watch at times, but only because the writing and directing are so intelligent and emotionally jarring that you sort of feel behind the same bars as the characters are stuck behind. It's a visceral experience, and as I was watching it, I noted how rare that is in cinema these days. Brett C. Leonard never delves into melodrama, as a writer AND director. He lets his actors do the work but with excellent cinematography in a small space, and the mental/physical domination unfolds in unexpected ways. I hope this film gets the recognition it deserves!
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Powerful and very personal view of Jail...
crescent-123 October 2004
I just recently saw this fil at the Woodstock Film Festival and found it .... amazing.

Michael Pitt and Stephen Adly-Guirgis were incredibly perfect for these roles. It was the first time that I had seen either actor and the cinematography made you feel claustrophobic and trapped as a prison cell. I think it really hit home about the prison system and how young men are raped and mentally abused by cellmates. It should send a message to the judicial system to monitor prisoners more and keep "chickens" from the hawks. Extremely provoking and sad. One of the best films of 2004.
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9/10
Invisibly in your face
fading_shade13 August 2004
I saw this at TriBeCa Film Festival, and I loved it. Even though there is only one brief moment of violence in the movie, I found myself breathless and tense through out the entire film. All of the harassment was insinuated. The degradation was hurtful and apparent. The movie was only the two cell mates for the majority of the film, and it was just so...you just have to see it. It is heart breaking and leaves you helpless and angry and sympathetic. The scene between Randy and his mother...ugh. I don't know, there's not much you can say about the film with out seeing it...it is an emotional ride more than anything else...a lot of insinuation, a lot of fantastic wordless acting...I hope to god it's released for all to see.
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9/10
One of the Best Indys in a Long Long Time
milkieboy17 May 2006
Thank God this film will finally receive its long-overdue theatrical release later on this summer! I saw it a while back at a film festival and thought it was one of the best independent films I'd seen in a long, long time. It is extremely powerful, disturbing, thought-provoking and funny all at the same time. The performances by all four actors are spot-on. Michael Pitt continues to impress. In fact, I think he went deeper emotionally in this film than any other, with the possible exception of 'Last Days.' Stephen Adly Guirgis surpasses his 'Palindromes' performance by a country mile. He's fantastic. And the film as a whole has a very mature, seasoned tone, pace and structure. It reminded me of some of Fassbinder's films. And early Louis Malle and a bit of Bresson. A great debut by writer/director Brett C. Leonard. I heard after the screening I saw that they shot the whole thing in 8 or 9 days. Incredible. Does anyone know when it will premiere in L.A.? I believe it opens New York sometime in July. Anyway, if it comes out where you live, I highly recommend it. A great example of auteur, personal film-making on a shoe string budget.
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8/10
Expected plot line but well done anyway
Greatornot20 September 2008
I first saw Michael Pitt in 'Funny Games US'. He portrayed a character so dislikeful , that I wanted to see the otherside of his acting range. He surely did not disappoint. This guy is a wonderful actor and not that popular yet. I do not want to give him all the credit in JAILBAIT. Stephen Adli Guergis was awesome as well . The movie played like a Broadway Play with a low budget for actors . Thus most of the movie was dialogue . That was very OK though. These actors had great chemistry and I believe the realism of a jail cell was portrayed accurately. Basically it was an alpha dog that took charge of a meek individual and thus the psychological and sociological ramifications of the movie were explored . The movie did not break new ground I must admit as some other reviewers brought to light. The movie did show , in entertaining fashion , I might add , the dynamics of an individual prison cell. This was a tasteful movie with some untasteful , but realistic manner of what goes on in 'said' prison cell. Where the movie was different than most was that it explored the individual cell , with just the 2 characters , as opposed to most prison movies that basically involve the whole penitionuary. From that aspect the movie did differ. In summation, I recommend this movie at optimum alertness and revel in the great acting while you are watching.
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8/10
I loved it, I hated it, it made me sad, it made me mad...
brooklynmc12 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
... but most of all, I was mad.

I have only posted here a few times and only when I feel compelled to do so. This movie deserves some attention. I am not a film major, or a self-proclaimed expert. Thank god. I don't need to be taught how to enjoy something. I listen to instinct and emotion. This movie is a solid 8 out of 10 for a number of reasons.

I thought the acting was superb! The main stars cell mate Stephen Adly Guirgis (Jake) was awesome! All the acting was phenomenal. The entire movie, for the most part, takes place in a cell, but you are kept on the edge of your seat from the start.

I can't help but wish there was a little more interaction with the prison and it's inmates, but the simplicity of this movie is part of it's appeal. Like a Clerks. Smart writing, sound and directing make this movie feel quite real. I also can't help but be a little let down with the ending. One of those endings that left me with my mouth wide open and saying, "what! it's over!", but then settling happily for an open ending that leaves you thinking, what next?

I will say though, that I am left wondering, is Michael Pitt (Randy) a little odd in real life or is he that good an actor? I am also a bit angry that he did not try to defend himself. If you read The Kite Runner, I was left with a similar feeling. How could he stand there and let these things happen?

Enjoy.
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7/10
Definitely worth the wait
ennuiblu25 August 2006
Like I have stated in other comments that I have made for other films, I am no expert-- just a chick who loves a good story. However, when I see something that haunts me long after I get on the 101 freeway, I feel obliged to chime in with my comments.

After months of hunting down when and where this film would release in the LA area, I finally sat down in my chair, stub in hand at the Grande Laemmle downtown. I thought I would remain the only member in the audience given the lack of advertisement, but shortly after I arrived two older guys showed up. One of them had a handy-cam, so I figured they were just a couple of old pirates. Nope. The 'pirate' ended up being the father of Brett C. Leonard, the writer/director of the film and his camera was not for pirating-- just had it with him. After hearing Bruce Leonard's story of his son's long journey to getting the film off the ground and on to the screen, I was more than ready to see it. It was definitely worth the wait.

From the limited number of cast members, the one principle setting, the almost exclusive use of the color blue and the lack of 'mood' music, you really got a sense of confinement. The acting was great. I was scared of Randy's (Michael Pitt) cell mate and wanted to be his friend all at the same time. Very amusing and yet horribly disturbing character. Michael Pitt was dead on once again. You really felt for the guy's situation and, no doubt, his regret. Clearly, the film wanted to touch on the ridiculousness (is that even a word?!) of California's three strikes rule. Without giving anything away, I can say that this film while not preachy is definitely a discussion starter (aren't all of the good ones that way?).

By not putting the two principle characters in a few other settings within the prison, i do feel that the director missed an opportunity to take advantage of the medium. A lot of the dialog could have been done in the prison yard or the mess hall..even the library mentioned at the beginning of the film. This would have also allowed us to see how the other inmates were living and interacting. Maybe even opening up the idea that Randy's situation was not just his hard luck, but the simple, sad truth of many other inmates.

Regardless of these thoughts, this was a disturbing, touching and thought-provoking drama. The writer and director should be proud of his accomplishment. I know his father sure is.
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7/10
Fortune and Men's Eyes for the new Millennium?
Havan_IronOak8 May 2004
`When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes' from one of Shakespeare's sonnets was used in 1967 (before Stonewall) as the title of a play about men in prison and the sexual games that were played there.

Jailbait covers much the same territory and it would appear (if this movie is taken at face value) that some parts of society haven't moved ahead at all.

In this prison drama, essentially a two-man play, we see the interaction between the hardened lifer Jake and the much younger, much more frail Randy (played by Michael Pitt)

The first scene with the two men is deceptively mild but towards the end of that scene we see that there is menace just below the surface of Jake's behavior. From the `wounded doe' look in Randy's eyes at the beginning of the second scene we can begin to see that something is wrong and while what it is seems pretty obvious (given that it's a prison movie) we are not really certain for some time

Unfortunately the movie doesn't progress much from there. Like the men, we seemed sentenced to remain in the same place for much longer than we'd choose to.

This movie is worth seeing as a character study and there are some memorable bits but it seemed to cover no new ground nor present any new perspectives over the 30 year old Fortune and Men's Eyes (albeit this one showed that it had a much better budget and was by far more polished)

I was ultimately left unfulfilled and wondering why this movie had been made.
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5/10
I want to see this as a play, not a movie
mrwhitekeitel1 February 2007
I started watching this movie with no pre-conceived notions. (I only decided to see it based on the presence of Michael Pitt, who has proved himself to be a very capable young actor, and that it was produced by the same producer as L.I.E. I had heard nothing about it.)I wish I had read a review before hand and saved myself some time and money. (Though the review I read here for it wouldn't have stopped me from seeing the film. They seemed to think simplicity means "art".) The acting was surprisingly good. That I am willing to say. If you want an acting class on how to react silently on film, Pitt's performance is sublime. Sadly, those moments do not save this clunker of a movie.

Some times you see a movie that was based on a play and you can feel the story not fitting the medium of film. This was a very similar experience to that. It was like watching a badly lit stage play with close ups. You are robbed of the joy of going to see a play while also being robbed of the pleasures of film. They are two completely different mediums and this movie fit neither one.

If it was play at a local theater, I would recommend it solely based on the mental exercise that would accompany the play on the ride home. But as a film, I must say this movie left me feeling flat. The camera felt intrusive. The pace felt forced. The violence seemed tame and unreal. Even the dialouge seemed as if it were written by someone who had never seen the inside of a prison. (Or if they had, it was in 1957.)The actors clearly did the best they could. They had to take this job for the chance to do good work and not for money, but sadly the direction and script didn't allow them to make a movie you don't forget about ten minutes before the credits even start.
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8/10
Intense, Unnerving Snapshot of a Young Man's Prison Sentence
evemarietou1 January 2015
I have admired Michael Pitt for his excellence as an actor and an artist for almost seven years. His captivating performance as an American student in Paris in Bernardo Bertolucci's erotic, political drama "The Dreamers" (2003) reeled me in, and ever since, I have been rather bewitched by him. Though he is described as commonly portraying troubled, emotionally fractured characters, Pitt's body of work is rich, his performances varied and complex. His performance in Brett C. Leonard's aptly named "Jailbait" (2004) is no different.

In the film, Pitt excels through his understated portrayal of a sensitive young man named Randy, whose third felony results in a twenty-five-year prison sentence. His dialogue is spare, but Pitt compensates for that through a striking ability to convey a broad range of emotions -- sorrow, remorse, relief, fear. His expressiveness brought an added dimension to a character that might have been flat if played by a less competent actor.

Yet, as difficult as I often found it to tear my eyes away from Pitt, it is Stephen Adley Guirgis who truly shines through his portrayal of Randy's erratic cell mate. Without giving away too many details, as Jake, Guirgis is, in a word, unnerving. He brought an element of suspense that I felt transcended the usual portrayals of sociopathic prisoners in film. Though one reviewer suggested that the film is predictable, the tension between Jake and Randy was so palpable and disarming that I could never fully anticipate what would transpire from scene to scene. This tension was strengthened by Leonard's use of muted colors, primarily blue, for the cinematography and a soundtrack so subdued that it integrated seamlessly with dialogue and scene.

With that said, "Jailbait" is not a perfect film. While many films are a bit overdone, with scenes that do little to service or further the story, this one could benefit from some extra 'padding'. But "Jailbait" isn't like most feature-length films. It is less of a story or a memoir than a snapshot. Those who seek a linear plot with a definitive ending won't find it here. And those seeking a stylized prison drama featuring gangs and heavy doses of machismo will be disappointed. But if you're looking for an understated, well-acted independent drama -- or a snapshot of the life of a young man in prison -- look no further than "Jailbait".
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1/10
Uneventful
Spookymindz27 January 2007
I did not care for this movie at all, very uneventful and very little script, not a good one so i'd suggest you save your time and pass on watching this one as you may be disappointed by this movie. The ending was very abrupt and the story (script) had very little to offer the viewer.Pass on this movie and watch something good. This movie "Jailbait" was one of the worst movies i have seen, did not live up to it's billing. Basically a one character script due to the fact that Randy (Michael Pitt) had very little dialog and most of the movies dialog was by Stephen Adly Guirgis (Jake) who gave a good performance but still was not enough to save this movie from being awful, all and all i didn't enjoy this movie to recommend to you, so the best i can say is in this one sided movie was lackluster and didn't have much to offer it's audience in the way it was written it had no surprises or Suspense and little if any drama, the only thing that made this movie anything was Stephen Adly Guirgis (Jake) who's acting ability kind of saved this movie from being a total disaster which is what it came close to being, he did give it some uplifting moments at times but other then that it wasn't worth seeing, so take your chances if you do decide to watch this movie as it really failed in the script and the ending. That's the reason i had to rate it a 1 out of 10.
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