Dan Poliner’s first feature Jack, Jules, Esther & Me is an irresistible romantic comedy that will tug at your heartstrings whether you’re a seasoned indie fan or a strictly mainstream movie spectator. The movie centers on Luis in his last few weeks before leaving home to attend college when he launches a last ditch attempt to gain the affections of his crush, Jules. He enlists the help of his best friend and ne’er-do-well, Jack, and a girl he barely knows from his SAT prep class, Esther. Little does Luis know, this combination of people will change not only the trajectory of his mission but his misguided perceptions of all three friends.
The film explores socio-economic themes and ethnic stereotypes in addition to the development of love and sex between modern young adults. It is smart and sweet with just a little bit of edge. Unlike many independent films that often force uncomfortable and disturbing images in front of our faces, Poliner takes a softer approach to his subjects due to his personal experience wit this transitioning age group through his tutoring work. Although there is mild sexual content and situations, the focus of the film is the evolution of Luis and his three friends as they pass through the gateway from teenager to full-blown adulthood – college.
All the actors do an excellent job in their roles but I think the stand out was Aaron Sauter as Jack. Regardless of his supporting role, Sauter makes his characterization of Jack seem virtually effortless, as if he’s been playing this person for years. It is no surprise to me to find out that Sauter has been working his way up the acting ladder since filming Jack, Jules, Esther & Me, already landing a prominent role on the Nicktoons show Alien Dawn. That being said, the most touching scene of the film was when Luis says goodbye to his parents on the college campus. It is hard not to believe that these fictional relatives are a true family unit as the emotions are palpable. Kudos to Dan for direction, Alexander Flores (Luis), Sol Miranda (Luis’s Mom) and Gilbert Cruz (Luis’s Dad) for a brilliant moment that made this jaded film viewer a little verklempt. As a former filmmaker, I can tell you this level of feeling can be hard to achieve no matter the budget.
Congratulations, Dan, you made a fantastic film and we can’t wait to see what you do next! You can watch Jack, Jules, Esther & Me on iTunes and Amazon. It’s available on demand with Time Warner, Cox and Comcast cable and with many other platforms. Check the Facebook page and Official Site for more info.nIf you’d like to read more about the making of the film and the writer/director, Daniel Poliner, check out our interview here.