Caroline and Jackie - they are sisters, Caroline is the older one, Jackie the younger. To celebrate Caroline's 30th birthday Jackie invites her sister to her place, not knowing that Caroline herself has plans on her own. So the party turns out completely different from what was expected and at the end of the night there's not only a broken heart left behind ...
As a "younger" sister myself I really could empathize with a lot of the stuff that was going on in the movie. Older sisters seems to tend to try to be a motherhen, if you like it or not. As the younger one you have to accept it, gnaw on it and move on. Sometimes those relationships between especially sisters don't end well ...
The 30th Birthday is one of the points in a woman's life that probably will never change. It is still the time when you look the first time into your life, compare the good with the bad. True, today the thirties aren't what they were decades ago. You are not the "Old Maid" today because you aren't married with kids today. A lot of people just starting over in their thirties, a lot of kids are born with mothers beyond the 30th. On the other hand it is still a date to proof yourself. With 30 you are really adult and have enough experience not to keep your head in the stars anymore.
Caroline has special plans for her 30th birthday. She wants to show everyone what a great person she is. She never went to college, she never had a great job. As Jackie says at one point: "She was there for me." Unfortunately to be there for someone else isn't the best thing that can happen, and Jackie learns this very quickly.
Jackie's best friends are there, waiting for the sisters at a restaurant. As a viewer this looks a little weird. True, Caroline comes to (California? Looks like) Jackie's while her own residence is in New York. It's a little tricky to get her friends there. But ... from the moment Jackie enters the restaurant you as a viewer know there's something going on. It's Caroline's birthday, and Jackie mentioned herself that hers is two months away.
During the dinner the situation becomes more and more uncomfortable, something that is very well transported. While Jackie is the only one eating everyone else seems nervous - too nervous to eat. So this whole experience turns out as very rushed. The dishes are barely on the table before the waitress take them off again. The exchange of birthday gifts between the two sisters also seems weird in this situation. The real celeb, Caroline, put her gift in her bag while she forces Jackie into opening hers. Jackie does and is looking at an old photograph of herself with her sister. Ryan, her boyfriend, is the first one who mentioned the obviciously: "Is this a bad joke?"
Only a couple of minutes later the dinner falls apart completely and lead the whole group to leave the restaurant. Ryan apologizes to hurry back to the house where he is living with Jackie. When the others finally arrive Jackie sees herself confronted with accusations she cannot believe: Caroline tells her that she would resign her birthday-party in favour to help her younger sister with her problems (drugs, alcohol, eating disorder). In this way it turns out that Jackie's friends were called to this gathering to help Caroline to bring Jackie to face her problems.
I have to say, Bitsie did an awesome job in this scene, like in the most other ones. Her reactions to the letters and speeches, the accusations were phantastic delivered and the argument between her and Caroline before she leaves her home and ran off is great. Jackie brings it down to the point: "You want a Thanks for fixing my arm (back when we were kids)? Here it is!" and writing it down on a piece of paper before she leaves the house.
Now the storyline turns out a little weird, when it comes down to Jackie's friends - especially Ryan, who just told her that he hoped one day they would marry and having kids together. It takes Caroline to bring him out on the street. Suddenly everyone is listening to Caroline, a person no one of the group really knows. While I personally think it is interesting to watch your friends and listening to what they have to say about you when you are not around - this turns out really weird.
Ryan IS finally out on the street, searching for Jackie. He finds her - at a bar. She is still upset and wants to calm down. So she orders a scotch. On the background that she was just accused to be an alcoholic Ryan isn't really happy but he gives in. I think this is one of the strongest scenes they both have in this movie. Ryan, trying to calm Jackie down, Jackie, who feels betrayed and learns then that her boyfriend also has his not so bright sides what makes her more angry, especially because he believes Caroline. David G is really working his arse off in this scene and he does pretty well here. While his acting on some other scenes looks sometimes a little weak here you believe him that he's really worried about Jackie. And Bitsie, again, is shining here. Her way of showing emotions is really well done here. You believe her every word she's saying.
Finally Jackie leaves the bar while Ryan is holding back by the barkeeper for payment. When he finally is on the street again Jackie is gone and he cannot find her again. Another weird reaction here is that he's, instead of turning the city upside down in search of his girlfriend, he finally makes it home again only to get hold back by the group there. Those friends of Jackie come to the closure that they will celebrate Caroline's birthday now with fireworks. Jackie, on her way home, sees the fireworks, seems to know what is going on and ... again she's running, this time searching the bars for a lonely man. When she finds him she starts to kiss him, only to let him stay alone afterwards - again, a great way of acting for Bitsie and an interesting turn on the character she's doing here.
Ryan finally gets the group into searching Jackie again, but this search turns out ... weird: Jackie's best friend is hiding with the younger man she brought with her for the party somewhere in the bushes, another of her friends takes some drugs, Ryan himself changes his mind again and heads home in hope to find Jackie there. Instead of that he finally decides to ... shower!
Okay, David G. definetely shirtless IS an angle here - heck YEZZZ! - but I still feel baffled. Why the heck he wants to shower when his girlfriend is missing? i get that he thinks the others can search for Jackie but someone (he) should be at home in case she comes back. But why the heck he takes a shower? Because ... exactly that happens what had to happen:
Caroline had followed him back. She enters the house and lock down the front-door. And also Jackie is coming back, cannot enter her own house and Ryan, we remember the weirdest showertime ever, cannot hear her BECAUSE he need ... a shower. And, it's getting weirder!, Ryan leaves the bathroom, goes into the bedroom only to get a visit by Caroline. And Caroline is very clear about what she wants. He can manage to shofle her out the room but needs fresh air after that. Oh, this little flaws in movies, how much I love them! One scene: Ryan's hair is wet, next scene it's dry. Cute. But anyway, Ryan leaves the house through the front-door and I'm still wondering why he's not surprised that the door was locked. But he finds Jackie outside and they, again, do some talking. Ryan got that there's something wrong with Caroline (took you a while man!), but he thinks it's a normal siblings rivalry.
Well, I think I will stop here and leave the rest of the movie to you. It would take too much fun out of it, if I would tell you everything, right?
So, what to say about this movie? I have to say as Caroline and Jackie never would have made it on my screen under different circumstances I am very surprised how much I like the movie. While some of the reactions are pretty much weird and probably beyond the reality (the group stucking in the house while Jackie is on the run), others could be taken from the average people on the street (Ryan telling Jackie to stand up for her sister).
What is this movie about? Relationships. Different relationships with different peoples, about different emotions. It is hard for a person to face the reality about his/her friends, and Jackie does this during the whole movie. The people she trusts the most are suddenly the ones she runs off from - because this people don't believe her anymore. While Ryan is realizing "pretty" fast that there's something wrong with Caroline it takes the others really the whole movie and finally the "Dance" to really get what is going on. But then it is too late.
Decisions - we all have to make decisions, every day so many. But in the end only the sometimes hardest ones are the really important ones. So Jackie has to choose in the end, and she chooses. She's doing probably the hardest decision in her life but it is the decision her heart told her. No matter what, in the end family matters. If this means to leave your love behind - later there's enough time to regret what you have done.
Family - relationships between siblings are often complicated, especially between sisters. Sometimes they can be the best friends, sometimes they are the darkest nightmares to each other. But blood is thick and matters. If your sister needs help you will help her, no matter how wrong this decision feels. It IS family, and family is what matters the most. The question is more: how to define family.
Disorders - this is very personal for me because the one thing I feared all over my life are mental disorders/sicknesses. And I have to say it was very well written and acted here, the way Caroline turns out more and more as the real patient who Jackie has to watch over. It explains a lot about what we've learned about Caroline during the movie. Her break-down in the end was probably the highlight of the movie, Jackie taking responbility for her sister definetely was!
So, what to say about Caroline and Jackie? A small little movie which is carrying a lot. it is a quiet one - mostly - but it IS a good movie. Characters which everyone can identify him/herself with even when this means to face the truth about ourselves as not that nice friends we want to be. A difficult movie because of the message it wants to transport but it gives you something you have to think about. A little treasure of a movie in these days where money means everything.