“Barbara Jean” is a strange and interesting love story about a girl trying to free herself from a troubled relationship with her father, while trying to begin a new relationship with her pianist neighbor. This new relationship doesn’t really start with normal circumstances either; Barbara’s social skills are awkward and her approach is somewhat forceful and sorrowing. She says everything she can to try and get this man to have dinner with her and he finally accepts the invitation out of sympathy.
The musician also has a troubling parental relationship; his mother doesn’t really know what is going on. She babbles out random things to people long gone and about events years ago. The two almost seem perfect for each other, with the exception that Barbara Jean is social basket case.
Barbara is played by Sara Rue (TV’s “Less Than Perfect”) and here, she is almost unnoticeable. For the most part, Rue usually tackles comedic roles, yet as Jean, she perfectly blends in to the dramatic character. Tom Bower plays her verbally abusive father as perfectly as one plucked out of a trailer park. In the beginning he does a great job of getting the audience to feel sorry for him (he is an old man and doesn’t really leave the house). Toward the middle though, that sympathy is gone when he finally shows his real side.
Writer/Director Mischa Livingstone attempts to cover a lot of ground in the brief 22 minutes that “Barbara Jean” runs. The film actually feels like it could be stretched into a feature. It would have been nice to learn more about Barbara’s past with her father and for the relationship with the pianist to be more rewarding. Even so, “Barbara Jean” is a good start in the right direction.