Jackie Marshall Makes Her Acting Debut

12 June 2023 | 10:57 am | Staff Writer

Brisbane singer songwriter Jackie Marshall is making her big-screen debut in a feature film exploring the humanity of songwriting.

Maisie Owens & Jackie Marshall

Maisie Owens & Jackie Marshall (Supplied)

After battling and beating cancer for the third time, the acclaimed artist has turned her hand to acting, creating a powerful performance in Three Chords and The Truth. After making its debut last November at the Brisbane International Film Festival, the movie is getting its southern debut this weekend at the Sydney Film Festival.

Marshall has also provided the stunning soundtrack to the film, which depicts a young girl struggling to find her place in the world before meeting a mentor who guides her to the solace of songwriting.  

Of all the things you can ‘do with your life’, making music is something only the bravest among us should attempt. Forget the financially perilous nature of the beast, the constant rejection, objectification, the grinding hustle of it all takes a commitment and passion that should be commended, and not dismissed like it so often is. The highs are electric. The lows seem endless.

So, why bother? It’s because songs matter, that’s why. And there few better demonstrations of that than debut feature film from Claire Pasvolsky Three Chords and The Truth

At its heart, this is a film about relationships – both deep and accidental. It is about the fallibility of humans and the mistakes we make just trying to figure ‘it’ all out. But also the magic we can create when we open our hearts, and in this case, homes to the unexpected. 

Newcomer Maisie Owens shines as Ruby, a young woman lost in suburbia. She is running from something, looking for something – neither of which she is yet to fully understand. Enter Angie Cowper, played with devastating effect by screen debutant and acclaimed musician Jackie Marshall

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Put aside the striking cinematography and the stunning use of light, if there was a masterstroke in this film it is Pasvolsky’s decision to throw Marshall in the deep end to bring to life a character in the most authentic of ways. 

Over the past few decades Marshall has created a body of work the continues to challenge and defy convention. Through a combination of talent and sheer bloody mindedness she has faced down and defeated demons both personal and professional. She’s still standing tall and telling it like it is – much like the on screen persona we see here. 

Without overselling the point, Marshall lifts the veil on life as a musician – particularly one who refuses to bend to convention. At one point her long-suffering studio producer explains to Cowper that she is brilliant, but ‘not commercial’. Her response? ‘Fuck commercial.’ That is as pure a Jackie Marshall moment as you will ever get.

The magic between our two leads grows not through dialogue or the intimate gestures and moments they share. Instead it blossoms through music and the creation of a song that says more than any monologue could capture. 

In an era where music is treated largely as wallpaper this film serves as a powerful reminder that yes indeed, songs matter. Maybe more than ever.

Three Chords and The Truth has been honoured with Official Selection at the Sydney Film Festival with two screenings this coming Friday and Saturday nights – June 16 and 17.  For session and ticketing information visit www.sff.org.au

It will also be featured in the Festival’s Travelling Film Festival initiative, taking a selection of films to regional areas across the country kicking off in Newcastle on June 24.