Jack Be Nimble. 1993. New Zealand. Directed by Garth Maxwell. Written by Maxwell and Rex Pilgrim. With Alexis Arquette, Sarah Smuts-Kennedy and Bruno Lawrence. 4K restoration courtesy of Altered Innocence. 92 min.
A lost classic in the canon of gendered horror, New Zealand writer-director Garth Maxwell’s Jack Be Nimble was released to critical acclaim in 1993—the New York Times praised its “hallucinatory power and psychological refinement”—before falling into relative obscurity after a botched release. Featuring indelible performances by Alexis Arquette and Sarah Smuts-Kennedy as Jack and Dora, suffering siblings damaged by a broken home, it is a dark and bloody fairy tale of despair and redemption. Maxwell brings an empathy and sense of urgency to his film’s trans-sensitive themes that could not feel more contemporary. MoMA is presenting the theatrical premiere of its 4K restoration, courtesy of Altered Innocence. The director will be present.