Jesper Just has become internationally renowned for works which explore the ambiguous territory of gender, desire, relationships and identity. Early films explored and circumvented the complicated representations of masculinity in Hollywood cinema and throughout popular culture, and challenged viewers’ expectations of those conventions. In The Lonely Villa (2004), a scenario unfolds of several men sitting in silence, anticipating the phones in front of them to ring. An older man answers his phone to find the singing voice belonging to a younger man across the darkened room. The call turns into an emotionally fraught duet of a 1930s love song, and Just leaves it completely open-ended whether the protagonists are father and son, or if they are lovers.
In the brochure text for his solo project at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in 2006, Hannah Barry describes Just’s lush, cinematic productions: “For each film Just assembles a grand production, engaging trained actors and singers, sound and lighting engineers, and camera operators…He employs mechanisms more commonly associated with lavish ‘motion picture’ productions for cinema: notably his trompe l'oeil cinematographic vision, manifested in elaborate chiaroscuro combinations of light and half-light; tight control of changes in perspective and arrangement of the cast in majestic tableaux vivants; and a miniaturist's hypersensitivity in committing human emotions to film, his precise handling of the camera capturing the subtleties of sadness, melancholy, and grief as well as of prolonged expressionlessness and impassivity.”