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JERSEY GIRL – Revealing power of father’s love

Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Liv Tyler
Director: Kevin Smith
Rated: M15+

HAS director/writer Kevin Smith undergone a transformation, or even a conversion?

Well, no. Those who are afraid that his move into romantic comedy and family drama may have altered his perspective on life (well, it has, really) will be reassured by the constant bodily function jokes, sexual references and an underlying tone of irreverence.

Kevin Smith is still highlighting Catholicism. Audiences will not have seen so many statues of Mary and cribs in a film for a long time.

That said, a review of this film needs to focus on the romance and the family.

Kevin Smith has become a father in real life. This seems pretty obvious while watching the film. He is positively doting on the little girl, Gertie (Raquel Castro), in the film.

He is also looking at the responsibilities of parents, especially fathers. At the end, apart from the first credit to God, whom Smith acknowledges is still interested in him, the dedication is to his own father, recently deceased.

After Dogma and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, many critics hoped that these would be the last of his ‘adolescent joke’ films. They wanted him, even urged him, to grow up.

Now that he has changed tack in themes, they decry his selling out to Hollywood (at least to Miramax) and his wearing his heart on his sleeve.

This is certainly a romantic film.

Ben Affleck (a Smith regular who responds better to his direction than to any other director) plays Ollie Trinke who falls in love with Gertrude Steiney (Jennifer Lopez in a rather self-effacing brief performance) who dies during childbirth.

His father, Bart Trinke (George Carlin), a New Jersey council worker, takes care of the baby but urges his son to do his share. This becomes even harder when Ollie loses his job.

There are some really tender scenes between Affleck and his daughter (which hard-nosed critics – probably more hard-hearted – loathed) which will appeal to parents.

Into their lives comes a vivacious student who works at the local video store. She is played very nicely by Liv Tyler – and the romance is not too obvious.

Raquel Castro as the young Gertie holds her own with the adult cast – but she is quite precocious.

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