Poignant love story The Swearing Jar surprises audiences with better-than-expected content


Courtesy of Farpoint Films

Carey (Adelaide Clemens) and Simon (Patrick J. Adams) share a loving moment discussing their swearing jar after Simon catches Carey swearing.

The Swearing Jar, an hour and 51-minute film released Sept. 23, 2022, chronicles Carey’s (Adelaide Clemens) struggles through the beginnings of parenthood and her efforts to find acceptance and love when life takes a turn. With unanticipated twists and timeline changes, this Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) award winner surpassed expectations in both its excellent acting and engrossing plot.

Carey and Simon (Patrick J. Adams) are a sweet but slightly damaged couple that don’t know whether or not they should have children. Carey suddenly finds out she’s pregnant on the same day Simon comes home with an ominous piece of yellow paper, which is implied to contain important news. His suspicious and guilty behavior is momentarily overshadowed with glee when he finds out, but inevitably leaves viewers wondering what he needs to hide. 

Adding to the scandal, Carey becomes acquainted with the awkward neighborhood bookstore employee and guitar player, Owen (Douglas Smith). As Owen and Carey’s flirty friendship slowly morphs into something more, Carey seemingly begins to grow suspicious of her husband, accusing Simon of acting differently around her.

The film heavily relies on manipulating timelines and overlapping its three main focuses: Carey and Simon’s sweet and comical efforts to become better parents, the budding romance between Carey and Owen, and Simon’s supposed fortieth birthday party scenes featuring awkward musical numbers.

Part of the charm as an audience member is diving in knowing almost nothing. The iMovie-esque trailer drags you along with images of guitars and picnics, inevitably muddling the purpose of the film. The descriptions of the film on Prime Video and Google paint two very different stories, with Google depicting a couple working on their swearing habits before the birth of their first child, while Prime Video describes a film about two intertwining love stories.

Where the trailer fails the film, the talented cast enhances it. Clemens brings an element of groundedness and vulnerability to the screen that allows viewers to instantly connect with her character. However, at times, situations she becomes involved in seem unrealistic. A somber and mysterious undertone is felt throughout the duration of the film, and the sweet and realistic banter between Clemen’s and Adam’s characters only add to the sense that their time together is finite.

Smith played the awkward guitarist role quite well, as his smitten looks and side-long attempts at flirting feel exceedingly real at times. Though his charm never faltered, the depth in his character barely scratched the surface. His character’s actions gave little insight into him as a person. It could also be a clever note in writing, proving how little we really know about his character in the first place. 

At times, over-the-top cheery music and cheesy one-liners glass over emotional and traumatic moments. Select scenes feel drawn-out and long, and the overarching sense of dread and air of mystery drift to the background in unnecessarily lengthy sections of dialogue. 

Although occasionally feeling prolonged or confusing, the film does a beautiful job of illustrating grief and acceptance, as well as the art of moving on. The Swearing Jar’s captivating story awards the film a three-and-a-half out of five feathers.