Directed by: Mark Jackson
88 minutes

New England Premiere

Nineteen-year-old Joslyn travels to a secluded island to care for an elderly, nearly catatonic grandfather while his family goes on vacation. Armed with a lengthy set of instructions, Joslyn sets about a quiet, comfortable routine. But before long, it becomes clear not only that Joslyn is not quite experienced enough to contend with the complications of caretaking, but that she is also dealing with a recent heartbreak that is amplified by the remoteness of the island. A series of eerie, unexplained occurrences, coupled with the advances of an intrusive neighbor, make us question both Joslyn’s safety and the truth of her surroundings.

If WITHOUT were, as it first appears to be, a meditation on the challenges and monotony faced by a hired caretaker, it would be a beautiful film. But first-time director Mark Jackson raises the stakes further: he creates a multilayered world in which the protagonist’s loneliness seems to affect her state of mind, allowing fantasy to seep, little by little, into reality. Newcomer Joslyn Jensen gives a startling, raw performance as a young woman overcome with grief and struggling to keep her loneliness and anger at bay. Punctuated by moments of unexpected dark humor, WITHOUT touches on themes of isolation and our responsibilities to others while exploring how one young woman’s world unravels.

—Kristina Aikens