‘Jump Darling’ is Cloris Leachman’s last film and a gay family story

Starring the late Oscar- and BAFTA Award-winning actor Cloris Leachman, the Breaking Glass Pictures film “Jump Darling” premieres in theaters March 11.

The film, written and directed by Phil Connell, also stars newcomer Thomas Duplessie, who plays Russell, an aspiring actor and drag performer — known as Fishy Falters — who seeks refuge at his grandmother’s (Leachman) house in the Canadian wine country.

When Russell goes to his grandmother Margaret, she’s grasping for her own independence as she comes to terms with her age and mortality.

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Russell tries to adjust to his new surroundings — trying to work at the local dive bar and flirting with the curious busboy Zachary. His mother, who is Margaret’s daughter (played by Linda Kash), wants to protect her mother and have her live in a retirement home.

“As tempers wear thin and family secrets are revealed, Russell and Margaret fight to maintain their dignity while being true to themselves,” the film’s synopsis states.

“Jump Darling”, Connell said in a release, came from his own experiences having end-of-life care conversations with his grandmother and his experience choosing life as an artist.

“Over a period of years, my late grandmother struggled with how to prepare for her ‘decline’ — be it physical or mental,” Connell said. “It was ‘the’ topic of conversation each time I would visit her. Meanwhile, I was struggling to maintain my resolve — against the forces and voices of self-doubt that every artist faces — and wanted to explore that in the distinctly queer context of drag.”

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The supporting cast, in addition to Kash (“Best in Show”), includes Jayne Eastwood (“Chicago”), with cameos from well-known drag queens Tynomi Banks (featured recently on “Canada’s Drag Race”), Fay Slift, and Miss Fiercalicious.

“Jump Darling” also showcases six on-screen drag performances against a pop soundtrack including Robyn, Allie X, Rough Trade, Years & Years, and more, according to the release. The film is produced by Katie Corbridge (“An Acquired Taste”) and executive produced by Karen Harnisch (“White Lie”) and Allison Black (“Giant Little Ones”).

Leachman appears in “Jump, Darling” in her last leading role. She died at the age of 94 in January 2021.  

“Cloris was an icon and an ally,” said Connell. “To work with her, to know her, and now to share her final leading performance with the world is a true honor.”

This article originally appeared on Advocate.com, and is shared here as part of an LGBTQ+ community exchange between Q Voice News and Pride Media.

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Alex Cooper

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