Watch This offers movie recommendations inspired by new releases, premieres, current events, or occasionally just our own inscrutable whims. Because it’s Love Week at The A.V. Club, we’re recommending movies about love triangles.
Based on a short British filmmaker Joel Hopkins made while attending New York University’s Tisch School Of The Arts in the late ’90s (you can watch it here and here), Jump Tomorrow is a delightful, multicultural morsel of a rom-com. Hopkins has admitted to being influenced by Jim Jarmusch and Jacques Tati, but that’s far from the only inspiration on display in this vivid, picturesque hipster romp, which also appears to bite from Jacques Demy, color-era Jean-Luc Godard, and other big names of the French New Wave.
Alternately titled Life: A User’s Manual, the film follows shy Nigerian-American George (Tunde Adebimpe), who meets and becomes instantly smitten with the lovely Alicia (Natalia Verbeke). Unfortunately, he’s in the midst of preparing for his arranged marriage to a childhood friend. (Look for Amy Sedaris as a dance partner George practices with for the reception and a young-ish Isiah Whitlock Jr. as his uncle, one of the family members doing the arranging.) George also meets Gerard (Hippolyte Girardot), a French romantic recently dumped by his girlfriend. At one point, our bespectacled hero keeps this heartbroken guy from jumping off of a roof by uttering the eponymous words of advice.
Next thing you know, George and Gerard are on a road trip to get to the church on time (as David Bowie would say) for the former’s wedding. This wild ride includes a pit stop at a honeymoon spot called The Love Lounge. Along the way, the two also pick up a hitchhiking Alicia and her pedantic British boyfriend (James Wilby), en route to Canada. Since George is getting married only to appease his family, the question becomes less who he will choose than who Alicia will. Technically, this is a love quadrangle.
Hopkins found his leading man in fellow NYU classmate Adebimpe, a straight-faced fellow who would eventually be known as leader of the critically acclaimed indie-rock group TV On The Radio. The frontman has appeared in a few other movies since, including as another soft-spoken husband-to-be in Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married. Hopkins, meanwhile, has had a scattershot filmography since Jump, which quietly slipped into theaters a few months before 9/11. (He also directed Last Chance Harvey, the 2008 rom-com with Dustin Hoffman as a middle-aged divorceé who finds love in London with Emma Thompson.)
Beyond its more screwball pleasures, Jump remains a refreshing reminder that Black people aren’t a monolith. They can be awkward, apprehensive, nerdy, goofy, and bereft of swag. As much as George wishes he could be as smooth and passionate as the characters in the telenovelas he starts watching after meeting Alicia, he knows he’s still a geeky-ass dude at heart. Sometimes, though, geeky-ass dudes can get the girl, too.