Lonesome Jim - Preview
Preview by Jack Foley
IT BOASTS a familiar tale of a central character returning to their hometown after failing to make it on their own in a big city, but critics generally seem to have warmed to Lonesome Jim, the latest directorial effort from Steve Buscemi.
The film opened in the States on March 24, 2006, having performed well on the festival circuit and looks to have benefited from a strong ensemble cast, despite its similarities to films like Garden State.
Casey Affleck stars as the Jim of the title, who is forced to return to his hometown in rural Indiana after failing to make it on his own in New York.
Once there, he is reunited with his doting but overbearing mother (Mary Kay Place), his distant father (Seymour Cassel) and a depressed older brother (Kevin Corrigan) whose “accidents” seem suspect at best.
As Jim becomes crippled by obligations and anxieties, his mum is then mistakenly taken for a suburban drug smuggler, compounding his misery.
But hope comes in the form of his developing relationship with a local nurse (Liv Tyler) and her young son, which allows Jim to slowly move forward without leaving anyone behind.
Critics in America praised the film for building on the good work already done by Buscemi in his previous outings as director (most notably on Trees Lounge).
Rolling Stone’s critic, for instance, wrote: “I can’t recall having a better time at a movie about depression.”
While Newsday observed: “If Lonesome Jim feels like it’s perpetually on the verge of evaporating, Buscemi brings to the material the boundless empathy for misfits and screw-ups he displayed in Trees Lounge.”
Newark Star-Ledger, meanwhile, opined: “Indie moviegoers have met slackers like Jim before, but he’s still good company. The laughs are frequent while the emotions ring true.”
And Efilmcritic.com stated that “Lonesome Jim is not going to become a generation’s anything the way Garden State is evolving, but it’s a decent sidebar”.
There were negatives, however, with Entertainment Weekly noting that ‘there’s nothing for Jim to do but sulk in a local bar on the corner of Nowheresville and Stuckforlife’.
While the New York Post described it as ‘one of those indie excursions to Loserville that lasts an hour and a half but feels longer than Roots’.
The New York Daily News was similarly unimpressed, writing that ‘the real problem is its absolute absence of energy’.
But Box Office Magazine wrote: “Anchored by dry humor and purposefully understated performances, Lonesome Jim steadily builds in charm as it progresses.”
And About.com concludes this overview by stating that ‘Steve Buscemi paints an honest picture of working class suburbia, where living rooms are covered with shag carpets and Applebees is the best restaurant in town’.