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Film Summary

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A true free spirit and a definite fighter, Billie goes on to fight the psychological torture of accepting an early-onset dementia diagnosis. Her acumen in various time-warped dimensions definitely throws the audience for a (time) loop. Through the power of symbolic visual art, writing, and religious practice, Billie is able to break through the confusion and manipulation of two romantic partners. Hulu’s “Jagged Mind” depicts a terrifying Stockholm syndrome situation in the midst of blood magic and dark manipulation with a dash of just enough culture.

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Billie

An interesting and rather sharp character, Billie navigates her social circles with grace despite her condition.

Alex

Asking for manipulative incarnate? “Jagged Mind” has got a perfect monster for you right here. She pushes kids at their own parties, and lies fall out of her mouth so easily. Due to what the audience can only imagine as a crippling lust for control, Alex uses otherwordly powers to control and disarm another bright young woman and satisfy her own unflinching desires.

Papa Juste

The gifted and traumatized healer! Papa Juste plays the trope of the daunting spiritualist, a holder of unseen knowledge.

Rose

A helpful artist showcased with the help of Christine and Billie. She represents the kind of external intervention often necessary to break loose from unhealthy patterns. Her role is reminiscent of a friend or a family member who, observing the pernicious courting dance from a distance, strives to awaken the victim of their slumber.

Christine

A recurring, alluring, and exciting ex that Billie cannot seem to get rid of.

Review

Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)

Highlights

Just Another Episode: A Take On Cinematography, Pace, and Effects

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“Billie (Maisie Richardson-Sellers),” Jagged Mind, directed by Kelley Kali, 2023, (Hulu LLC)

The slender and elegant heroine, Billie, unwittingly becomes entangled in a web of deceit and temptation. As she settles down in a lounge, an anonymous drink is offered as an overture of flirtation, introducing the audience to her initial encounter with an intrigued admirer. As the film unfolds, its narrative complexity heightens, encouraging viewers to flex their imaginative prowess. The cinematographic aspects are dizzying and illuminate the confusion that would cloud Billie’s mind. Obscure and dark shots push the audience out in the cold, merely a bystander to the catastrophe that begins to occur. It leaves the viewer just as disoriented as the protagonist in “Jagged Mind.”

Questions like “Is this replay related to her memory?”, “Is she a time traveler?”, “Is Alex pretending to meet Billie for the first time to set her at ease?” multiply, with answers remaining scarce until the reactions of those surrounding the duo come into play. The unsettling art piece of the teary-eyed artist Rose at a premiere exhibition should have been our warning sign, particularly after she cautioned Billie of looming danger. She even has a fear-plastered face on her voluminous head of hair! Despite Rose’s pleas for Billie to “remember,” her advice is largely unheeded. But remember what, exactly?

The film begins to fit the puzzle pieces together as more inconsistencies emerge from what we’re led to believe is an unreliable narrator. It comes to light that Billie’s recurring blackouts are the aftermath of exploited and misappropriated power. The movie is like a prolonged episode of slipped memories, deja vu, and a striking thirst for the truth.

A Convincing Catch: Too Relatable

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“Billie (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) and Alex (Shannon Woodward),” Jagged Mind, directed by Kelley Kali, 2023, (Hulu LLC)

For a time, Alex successfully fooled us with her convincing “I just care about you” shtick, only for the shocking truth to surface: she was siphoning Billie’s blood to fill a Haitian amulet that was not hers. Their first meeting even includes Alex playfully poking fun at her own whiteness—a comment that carries broader cultural implications given the narrative unfolds in Little Haiti. Despite seamlessly blending into the art scene that Billie was immersed in, Alex’s ostentatious wealth and demeanor did not sit well with Billie’s confidante and mother, Kim.

The dynamic between Alex and Billie may strike a familiar chord for some, echoing toxic relationships in which one often needs the sobering perspective of a friend to break free. This pattern can feel like a continuous cycle of having painful memories, and resentment washed away, only for them to be brutally reignited through reminders of past injustices and transgressions. Within the film, Rose assumes this pivotal role for Billie, functioning as a beacon of truth amidst a sea of deception and manipulation.

The scenarios shown mirror a common struggle many victims of harmful relationships face—the battle between a manipulated reality and the truth, which is often revealed through tangible reminders or, as in Billie’s case, written words.

Primary Orality: An Old-World Touch

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Interestingly, despite likely being verbally informed numerous times about her situation, the written word—be it a spell or journaled urgent reminders—finally resonates with Billie. In a clever twist, the film uses writing as a strategic toolset against the backdrop of an overwhelmingly oral religious tradition. Our protagonist grapples with memory loss until the power of the written word comes to her rescue. Billie even possesses a unique container that can preserve its contents, unaffected by Alex’s time manipulation.

Billie is equipped with the means to alleviate herself from a toxic conundrum. Her single-minded focus is to seize her freedom, irrespective of the consequences. The ever-manipulative Alex plays her part with apparent sincerity until Billie breaks free from the time loop. When Alex asks, “How did you find out this time?” it suggests this is a game she has played too often.

The hair-raising revelation of their previous encounters and Alex’s chilling parting words to Billie every time she attempted to break up— “See you soon” —are stark reminders of Alex’s twisted psyche. She repeatedly ensnares Billie, just as she did with Rose, which explains the artist’s attempts to assist Billie. The film seems to underscore the importance of breaking free from destructive cycles—a powerful message for anyone trapped in unhealthy, toxic, and never-ending patterns with those who lack genuine concern for their well-being. For a younger audience, this film could be less of a horror and more of a revelation and motivation to confront their own truths.

On-The-Fence

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“Billie (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) and Alex (Shannon Woodward),” Jagged Mind, directed by Kelley Kali, 2023, (Hulu LLC)
A Tad Too Tender

“Jagged Mind” is a bold exploration of toxic relationships, cycles of abuse, and the struggle for freedom. The film’s emphasis on breaking free from these destructive cycles resonates powerfully, offering hope and motivation, especially for young adults. However, while crucial to the plot, the heavy thematic content and the horror elements might be overwhelming or discomforting for some viewers. Overall, “Jagged Mind” is a riveting, if somewhat disturbing, cinematic journey that offers a thought-provoking exploration of personal struggle and resilience.

General Information

Director(s) Kelley Kali, Alysson Morgan
Screenplay By Chris Copesky
Based On The Short “First Date”
Date Released (Hulu) June 15, 2023
Genre(s) DramaYoung Adult, Psychological, Horror
Film Length 1 Hour 27 Minutes
Content Rating R
Noted Characters and Cast
Billie Maisie Richardson-Sellers
Alex Shannon Woodward
Annabelle Rosaline Elbay
Rose Shein Mompremier
Kim Kim Szekely
Papa Juste Jimmy Jean-Louis
Denise Brandi Huzzie
Debbie Jennifer Bonner
Lamar Usher Server

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Unlocking A ‘Jagged Mind’ (2023) – Review/Summary (with Spoilers)
Overall
Hulu's "Jagged Mind" successfully weaves a complex narrative that enthralls and disorients in equal measure, capturing the essence of its protagonist's plight against early-onset dementia and an intricately time-warped reality. The use of symbolic visual art, writing, and religious practices as tools for navigating and overcoming psychological torment offers a compelling and layered exploration of personal struggle.
Highlights
Cinematography and Pacing
Too Relatable (Hopefully Not)
Primary Orality: An Old World Touch
Disputable
A Tad Too Tender
87

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