TIFF ’22: ‘The Swearing Jar’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

When we think about soul mates, we believe there can only be one perfect person for us. But that’s not true. There are soul mates who teach us lessons and then walk out of our lives or those who stand the test of time whether platonic or romantically. If you’re lucky, you can make lifelong friendships with them. A strong friendship is the basis of any strong relationship, which makes The Swearing Jar such an emotional watch. Carey (Adelaide Clemens) and Simon (Patrick J. Adams) feel like the perfect pairing until obstacles and feelings get in the way. This film explores that life can’t always go the way you plan it to and that it’s okay to move on. 

The way this film is structured helps with understanding how Carey processes her relationships with two different men. The flashbacks show the person she was trying to be in one relationship and in the present day is who she indeed was. Carey was a songwriter and would express herself through lyrics, but once she got married that dream of hers slowly faded into the background. She took on this new role with her husband Simon; they never originally planned to have a child. But, as we all know, people tend to grow and think differently. The chemistry between Clemens and Adams was lovely. They were sweet and tender towards each other, they felt like best friends. 

Writer Kate Hewlett wanted to explore the complexities of relationships by separating Carey’s heart in two. She was with the man who made her feel safe and secure but fell for someone who shared the same passion for music as she did. Someone who didn’t feel stable, someone who was the opposite of the picture-perfect life she was leading. Carey made some questionable choices but she also followed her heart. Lindsay MacKay’s focus on Carey and how she navigated her feelings showed the balance between both relationships. It’s more of an internalized performance by Clemens but the pain she feels comes through her music and her reactions to everything around her. 

The Swearing Jar has strong writing and a unique story that has one woman exploring different forms of love. Carey goes through major life changes throughout this film. The songs helped structure her emotions at different stages in her life and they helped her pinpoint pivotal memories. It’s an intimate portrait of love, life and grief and how some moments can change someone forever. There are different ways to look at the issues Carey faces in this film and that’s why many people will be able to connect with her in whatever she may be feeling. Soulmates are hard to come by, so when you feel like you’ve met them, you will do whatever it takes to keep them in your life.

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