Isn’t it exciting that after the kissing booth finally, we have another teenage romance Netflix movie, JJ+E? The movie is going to bring a smile to everyone’s face, kicking in us the mood of teen romance. Will you be watching? The movie consists of tender love, emotions, and a lot of moments that will give you goosebumps. From romance to misunderstanding, from fighting to solving problems, from cinematography to songs everything about JJ +E is a blend of it all. But is it worth a watch?
Even though JJ+E fails to leave an impact on viewers there are many moments every youth should learn to make a perfect relationship like John John and Elizabeth. Are they patching up in the end or leaving each other? Sounds questionable. Here’s our review of the love story of John John and Elizabeth from JJ+E to help you decide if it deserves your time.
JJ+E is a Swedish movie by Alexis Almstorm starring Elsa Hrn, Mustapha Aarab, along with Magnus Krepper, Marika Lagercrantz, Albin Grenholm, Loreen, Otto Hargne, Simon Mezher, Jonay Pineda Skallak, and Elsa Bergström Terent. Released on 8th September and streaming on Netflix, this story is based on a teen love story between Elsa Hrn and Mustapha Arab. The two youngsters were raised in the same city, yet separated economically, socially, and culturally. The main story commences when they realize that they both are in the same class in high school.
JJ+E first appeared on the cinema screen twenty-five years ago in the film Vinterviken. Mustapha Arab plays the role of John John, a boy from the notorious social housing suburbs of Stockholm. On the other hand, Elsa Hrn plays the role of Elisabeth, who is from the Bromma area, one of the affluent places in the city. Elsa Hrn has always wanted to work in film and theatre since childhood. She began the dramatic program at Sodra Latins gymnasium in Stockholm, where she will soon begin her third year, after studying musical performance at Kulturama.
Mustapha Aarab, a Moroccan local, relocated to Sweden four years ago and now resides in Stockholm. He made his acting debut in the box series Beartown, which has grown his interest in the field.
Crew Dunja Vujocix wrote the screenplay for JJ+E powered by Vittorio Grasso’s music. The production for the movie started in April. This Netflix movie is a remake of the best winning award novel “ Vinterviken” by Mats Wahl. As producer and Alexis Almström as director, Dunja Vujovic has penned the script. The three of them have also previously collaborated on Top Dog.
The trailer catches the eye with the love story between two teenagers from the lower background in Stockholm city. John John is working for a gang when he meets a girl in the school. He saved a little girl’s life by jumping into the river. The film is set in Stockholm in 2021.
So this kind of JJ+E story has a Romeo Juliet vibe to it, where we have two teens who begin to fall in love but because of their life circumstances, they are in a different stratosphere. We have John John, who lives in a less than rich area. Usually, caught up in trouble, he has rough friends who do a lot of sketch things. We get the sense that he is a good kid at heart but he doesn’t always make the best decisions.
Elizabeth, on the other hand, lives in the rich part of the city and we get to see the difference in every aspect. They have this spacious house, a large infinity pool, a housekeeper, and even a vacation home. This dichotomy between John John and Elizabeth creates a perceived conflict. There are some conflicts when Elizabeth’s dad sees John John but there are other circumstances also that come into play as to why he feels about John John the way he does for being ninety-one minutes long. There is a lot of emotion that is forced into the story.
The love story also offers subtle relationship and dating tips. The two of them spend more time together, exploring each other’s personalities and creating a bond. They laugh, play, talk, all while growing closer and so that aspect works.
The other part of JJ+E plays out more in the background, with conflicts surrounding John John and his friends. They are kind of shady and rough, some of which also affect John John and his relationship with Elizabeth. There are even portions of John John’s family background that should have been explored to make him a more rich character and also give him some greater motivations but unfortunately, the story just doesn’t take the time to do so.
Also, a lot of that conflict is telegraphed pretty far in advance so it is not a surprise. John John is pretty sympathetic at least when he is not doing dumb stuff to jeopardize his future. Elizabeth is also fairly sympathetic as a character while she could come across as a stuck-up rich kid, especially to John John. She is kind and she gets along well with her friends so she is not stuck in some social strat but instead just sees people as people now.
It is very enjoyable when John John and Elizabeth come across as timid in JJ+E when expressing their interest in each other, only to lead us further into their lovable chemistry.
So with the underdeveloped background drama, JJ+E also becomes lackluster. The rushed events are predictable and are just not intriguing enough to engage with John John’s friend. Sluggo is pretty much just a thug. So, we know that he is going to cause or even bring about some sort of trouble eventually but shouldn’t care. If you were to put John John in danger then it would be more invested. But as it stands, the interactions with Sluggo, just don’t amount to much.
The love story of JJ+E worked for everyone but there was one section towards the very end of the movie that just felt like it came on too quickly and then resolved in a really rushed manner. That was not satisfying because the movie ends, offering no justification for it.
The cinematography had a lot of soft-focus shots. JJ+E movie is all kind of shallow and lacking. If it were just a love story we would need more in here to fill out the world. There is a conflict that exists because the dad isn’t sold on John John. So, the story is just fleshed out and then expanded to craft a touching romance. The bones are present in the story, it’s just not enough, though. Both the actors have performed terrifically and effortlessly.
JJ+E has a sweet ending with boldness in tackling the socio-economic disparity between the two lives by addressing how one is negatively affecting the other and vice versa. What is fascinating is how John John and Elizabeth view their situation as something inevitable and inescapable in the beginning that there is no changing it and they are going to be that way forever. But once they meet and grow feelings for each other, those barriers start to falter. Even so, at times, they continue to be pulled in by the influences around them that weigh them down.
This modern-day love story is sublime and unflinching and teenagers today, who are about to embark on their first relationship, could watch JJ+E and perhaps learn a thing and two from it.
The music is catchy and always reflects the on-screen mood. Netflix’s JJ+E, in general, is technically well-made and the cinematography & editing is well placed. There are even a few scenes that make good artistic use of lighting, which honestly took me by surprise.
Sadly, though, it was hard to appreciate those creative elements that were put into the story with all the supporting characters going around and dragging everything down with them. The supporting characters were by far the weakest parts of this movie.
A lot of the supporting characters exist purely to give one piece of information to one character during one scene. There is this one guy from the drama school that John John and Elizabeth go to and he is supposed to be associated with Elizabeth somehow. He is the one that tells John John that Elizabeth’s mom died from cancer, which for starters, is weird that he would disclose that to someone that he just met. The boy then disappears for pretty much the rest of the movie after that.
There is also a dumb side story with John John’s friend, Sluggo, and how he is trying to woo this girl that we only see him with once throughout the entire movie. He partakes in acts of thievery towards high-ranking criminals. It will be one thing if he is trying to redeem himself but he never does. So, we have no reason to care about anything that happens to him in this movie.
Then there’s the lameness that is this movie’s ending. You can have your eyes closed, and can pretty much see this ending coming from a mile away. (I’m not going to spoil it in this review but let’s just say it left a lot to be desired). Overall, JJ+E isn’t technically a horrible romance movie. There are far worse ones out there, anyway, but it is painfully mediocre in every sense of the word. If you enjoy romance movies and you don’t have any more of them to watch in your backlog, then maybe you can.
There was a lot of potential for this movie to be great and there is still some artistic merit to it, but its uninteresting characters and flat romance make everything a dull-born affair to sit through and watch from beginning to end.
Our JJ+E Netflix review is a neutral one. Watch it if you have the time, skip it and you won’t miss a thing. Maybe, 2.5 stars of 5 is all we can manage.
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