Written by Ivan Radford
Director: Bernard Rose
Cast: Danny Huston, Jack Huston, Sienna Miller, Jacqueline Bisset
After Boxing Day, Bernard Rose and Danny Huston team up once again to adapt Tolstoy for the modern age. This time, it’s 2 Jacks, based on Two Hussars. A short story from Leo’s early days, it’s a funnier tale than the last – but no less profound.
It follows legendary director Jack Hussar (Danny Huston) visiting Los Angeles to find funding for his new film. Instead, he finds Brad (Pressler), a wannabe producer who offers him a lift from the airport. Jack says yes – and proceeds to leech off him for the rest of the trip.
All smiles and slicked back hair, Danny Huston’s douche is impossible to dislike. He’s the polar opposite of Dave Pressler’s sidekick: Jack swoops through Hollywood with a brash confidence; Brad stumbles with a mumbled apology. No wonder, then, that his sister, Diana (Miller) falls for him.
Catching eyes across a party, he sweeps her off her feet with a brazen tango – a moment that Bernard Rose captures with understated intimacy. Slowing things down into a blurred close-up, the handheld camera swoons almost as much as Sienna Miller’s doe-eyed innocent, equally slave to Huston’s roguish charm. Even policemen can’t resist him: when he’s pulled over for drink-driving later that night, he talks his way out of it with an easy grin.
Fast forward 20 years and his son tries to do the same. Jack Hussar Jr. (Danny’s nephew, Jack Huston) arrives in L.A. with his own put-upon assistant, only to bump into Diana’s daughter, Lily (Fellner). She falls for his charms just as hard as her mum. The older Diana, though, is less impressed. All dressed up with her wrinkles painted over, she welcomes Jack Jr. with a hopeful smile – only to miss the man who once stole his way into her bedroom. Brad, meanwhile, fawns like it’s going out of fashion.
Rose separates his two-part story with a flash of colour, desaturating the past into a timeless legend. Compared to Danny’s effortless monochrome air, the younger Huston’s confidence comes across as brash and whiny; a garish display of entitlement.
Together, they paint a quietly prescient portrait of society now and then: a fascinating, accomplished drama that feels as topical now as it did in the 1800s. Bernard Rose has said that this will be his last Tolstoy adaptation with Danny Huston. That’s a great shame. In 20 years from now, here’s hoping they’ll reconsider.