Jumping Off Bridges was the last of a half-dozen feature-length films shot in Austin that I saw during SXSW this year. I wish I could say all the films shared some vital Austin trait, or that they each reminded me of Austin in different ways. But Jumping Off Bridges has a universal look and feel: this film could have been shot anywhere, about people in any town. Apart from the Town Lake bridge, I could not tell the setting was actually Austin. Although the movie is set in the early 1990s, it doesn't drill nostalgia for that time into our heads. The teenagers who are the film's focus might be from your high school or mine. (Well, maybe not mine specifically, since it was an all-girls' school with uniforms, but you get the idea.)
Jumping Off Bridges is no glossy teen comedy. The title refers to a game Zak (Bryan Chafin) and his friend Eric (Glen Powell Jr.) have developed over the years. They take photos of bridges, then jump from those bridges into the water late at night. When the movie begins, the 17-year-olds are joined by their female friends Grove (Savannah Welch) and Lindsay (Katie Lemon). Lindsay refuses to jump, scared by the possible danger, but Grove joins the guys eagerly. The question the film raises is about what's behind the ritual, and how it affects the teens' lives.