Lonesome Jim

"Very Good"

Lonesome Jim Review


If you were to saddle Garden State with a far less likeable lead and set it in Indiana, you might end up with this small gem, the latest from actor-cum-director Steve Buscemi. The Lonesome Jim in question (Casey Affleck) returns home ostensibly to find himself, but really he's just there to mooch off his folks until he can plan his next move. The fact that he finds himself in spite of himself saves this film from being a mere installment of "Profiles in Schmuck-itude," even if it ups the cheese factor as a result.

The movie begins with Jim's surprise arrival at his parents' house. His brother, Tim (Kevin Corrigan), still lives there but is less than pleased to see him. His mother, Sally (Mary Kay Place), is overjoyed but clueless as to Jim's unhappiness, even as he breaks down within minutes of walking through the door. And his father, Don (Seymour Cassel), in response to Jim's claim that his breakdown is due to "dehydration," simply suggests a cup of water.

As the film goes on, Jim gets involved with Anika (Liv Tyler, with yet another Affleck), a nurse he meets in a bar and her son, Ben (Jack Rovello). When Tim crashes his car into a tree in what appears to be a passive/aggressive suicide attempt, Jim bears some of the blame, having offhandedly suggested moments earlier that Tim, living at home with a dead-end job and alimony payments, would be better off dead. Don then compels Jim to work in his brother's stead at the family's factory with his mother. There he meets Evil (Mark Boone Junior), a cousin with a drug habit and impossibly low standards.

Jim is a sad sack. For reasons that are never made entirely clear, he's monumentally depressed. He has no hope, and is about as cynical as they come. He's also a bit of a jerk. He steals money from his mother and is slow to act when she's accused of a crime he can prove she didn't commit. And through all of it, Anika and her son somehow see something they like, though that appeal remains elusive.

Affleck's disaffected performance allows Jim's behavior to come off as insensitive and funny all at once. Place's portrayal of Sally subtly conveys the sadness and wisdom beneath an apparently naïve and saccharine exterior. This makes Jim's relationship with his mother one of the most frustrating and ultimately satisfying aspects of the movie.

The most priceless moments, however, belong to Junior as the drugged-out Evil. He tells Jim that he "uses hookers" because they're "cheaper" than getting a girlfriend, spikes his weed with crack, and upon presenting Jim with his prized collection of animal skulls announces, without a hint of irony, "They're animal skulls." He provides a nice foil for the better angels of Jim's nature.

As a director, Buscemi (Trees Lounge) doesn't shy away from the more awkward moments in Jim's life, be it coitus interruptus, premature ejaculation, or urination exercises (suggested by Evil, of course) meant to cure that problem. If anything, Buscemi's camera finds these moments just as important as the quieter ones that hint at some decency beneath Jim's self-centeredness, like lighting a cigarette for a man with one arm. That kind of even-handed focus makes for a fuller portrait, but it also makes for a slower pace. Clocking in at 87 minutes, the film feels like a solid 120.

Though Lonesome Jim isn't the breeziest fare in town, it certainly makes good use of Buscemi's attention to character and sense of humor which, at times, is downright hilarious. If you've had days where you can't stand the sight of a sunny disposition, you'll want to meet Jim.

Reviewed at the 2005 Philadelphia Film Festival.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 91 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 16th November 2005

Distributed by: IFC Films

Production compaines: Plum Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Fresh: 54 Rotten: 36

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Jim, as Tim, as Anika, as Sally, as Don, Rachel Strouse as Rachel, Sarah Strouse as Sarah, Rick Duplissie as Bar Patron, as Evil, as Phillip - Welder, as Ben, Don Strouse as Neighbor, Doug Liechty Caskey as Doug the preacher, Pam Angell as Stacy

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Advertisement
Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Passengers Movie Review

Passengers Movie Review

Anchored by the almost ridiculously engaging Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this sci-fi movie travels...

Neruda Movie Review

Neruda Movie Review

Clever Chilean director Pablo Larrain (who also directed Natalie Portman's Jackie) takes on the Nobel-winning...

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens), this documentary is one of the most gripping...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.