Director Adam Garnet Jones discusses his most recent film Great Great Great and the nature of building a story with consequence
Walking the line between engaging storytelling and melodrama when crafting a tale of infidelity is a difficult task. A narrative arch that’s mismanaged can result in either cringe to the level of averting your eyes, or something so saccharine it hurts your teeth. But Canadian filmmaker Adam Garnet Jones has avoided all of these tropes and has delivered something truly engaging in his latest directorial outing Great Great Great.
Jones has recently earned favour in the eyes of the Canadian filmmaking industry following his 2015 film Fire Song, which went on to sweep numerous awards at ceremonies throughout the country.
Jones is exploring new territory in Great Great Great by telling a story that still is personal to him, but is unlike anything he has ever made before.
“The two films are very different from each other. Fire Song is a very dark, intense queer Indigenous love story. Moving my style to totally different subject matter when working on this film made the whole directorial experience different,” Jones says.
Great Great Great is a very tightly shot and intimate tale, following the exploits of Lauren, played by Sara Kolasky. Lauren is a character struggling with a long-term relationship, an old flame, and uncertainty. Kolasky also helped write the film with Jones and her portrayal of a person enduring personal struggle plays immensely in the film’s favour and is one of the many highlights of the story.
“When you’re working with people you know and people who are close to you, you really get an opportunity to pull creative choices from them,” Jones says when discussing writing with Kolasky.
Where Great Great Great finds its footing is in how it treats its characters and how the interpersonal relationships are heavily engrained in reality. There is no fairy tale sugar coating in this film, every person in the narrative woks in tandem with the protagonist, whether they’re helping or hindering her.
However, Lauren’s motivations remain ambiguous throughout the film—something that Jones intended.
“The difference between a weekly soap and this film is mystery. Why characters behave the way they do in certain stories like this one can be crystal clear. With this film, we built enough motivation for the main character without having to explain every action,” Jones says.
Every beat that the plot lands on adds momentum to the narrative, whether it’s Lauren’s work relationships or personal life, each aspect lends to the story leaving very little room for unnecessary filler. A lot of this is aided by the obvious character direction that Jones and Kolasky had in mind for the portrayal of Lauren.
“On Great Great Great it was nice to have someone to collaborate with. It’s a huge relief to not be left alone with the terror of the page,” Jones says.
Thematically, the misnomer of the title plays into the themes the film explores. Nothing about Lauren’s life is remotely going great, yet it’s her persistence in managing numerous attempts at normalcy that stress the opposite. Her choices have consequences, and unlike other tales of disloyalty where certain events never get closure every action made by her comes back to have their just due in some way.
Great Great Great is another expertly woven personal story by Jones. It’s truly believable and leaves the viewer not particularly cheering for the protagonist, yet still fixated when it comes to seeing how it all plays out.
“I want to have something in a film that I deeply connect with,” Jones says. “Fire Song was a story for my community and in many ways was bigger than me. Great Great Great is deeply personal in nature. Woven by the experiences of myself and others in my life.”
Sat., Dec. 9 (7 pm)
Great Great Great
Q&A with Director Adam Garnet Jones