Saturday, 1 March 2014

Lonesome Jim (2005)

Lonesome Jim is a rather lovely low key indie from actor/director Steve Buscemi. Its stars Casey Affleck in the titular role, a perpetually downbeat young man who returns to live with his parents and older brother (Seymour Cassel, Mary Kay Place and Kevin Corrigan) in Indiana -  with the intention of having a breakdown -  after failing to make a go of it as a writer in New York.  His plan backfires however when his brother attempts suicide and his mother is implicated in her brother in law's (Mark Boone Junior) drug dealing, leaving Jim with no option but to be a supportive and responsible young man during the families hour of need. Along the way he meets and falls in love with a local nurse and single mother Anika (Liv Tyler - who, having appeared twice with Ben already, seems to be working her way through the Affleck brothers!) whose upbeat, sympathetic and encouraging nature helps lift Jim out of his chronic despair.

Reviews for this are somewhat mixed online, leading me to be intrigued but a little apprehensive upon viewing. I've quite often found Casey Affleck to be a bit drippy and mealy mouthed in most roles, so the thought of him playing someone so utterly despondent and inert was a little daunting, but I needn't have worried; he's so right for the role and brings a deadpan quality that really works in the film's more comic moments - often concerning his relationship with his constantly cheery but ultimately fragile mother who seems to think both her sons are still little boys, and has no appreciation of privacy in bathrooms or bedrooms!

Like yesterday's Masjävlar, this is also about a prodigal returning back to the fold in a sleepy small knit and gloomy looking town. Films about depression and being in a rut are quite hard because by their nature they have to be downbeat and I think that's where some of the negative reviews are coming from, but I think Buscemi's assured direction means that he comfortably walks the line here with what is a well intentioned and bittersweet little production. If I had to single out any weaknesses I'd say I'm not altogether sure the film needed the subplot of the drug deal; it seemed to be there to add a moment of drama and danger and suggested the film was going some place that ultimately is only really a minor detour. I appreciate it gave the role of the mother a progressive journey and Mary Kay Place handles it beautifully, but it just felt a tiny bit lacking or out of place for me personally, whilst Boone Junior seems to be auditioning for the role he eventually got in Sons of Anarchy.

Oh and Liv Tyler's still as cute as a button.

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