DEF2 REVIEW: LONESOME JIM

After the jump, a review from a FrontBurner Deputy Film Reviewer by Writing Gal Elsa Simcik. On Friday night, she saw Lonesome Jim.

Lonesome Jim
Casey Affleck
Liv Tyler
Mary Kay Place

Jim, a 27-year-old struggling writer (Affleck), gives up on New York City and his less-than-lucrative dog-walking career and heads home to Indiana to try to figure out what’s next. Yep, the town’s depressing. Yep, he’s depressed. And yep, I was scroungin’ around for a Prozac or two myself.

Its Prodigal son storyline makes it similar to Beautiful Girls and Garden State. Except there’s no Natalie Portman. But there is a love story. Or at least a like story. Jim meets Anika (Tyler) and almost cracks a smile. While Tyler’s performance is authentic and raw, I just kept thinking, “Now she’s simulated sex with both Afflecks.”

About the acting: Affleck is convincing as the miserable title character. Mary Kay Place is a stand-out as Jim’s mother–a doting, naïve-but-not-really-naïve type who’s a complete pushover when it comes to her “pretty boy.” Mark Boone Junior offers some comic relief as the vulgar, pot-bellied/pot-smoking Uncle with lines like, “I use hookers. It’s cheaper,” when asked if he has a girlfriend.

The dialogue (courtesy of James C. Strouse) isn’t forced or contrived but rather simple and understatedly humorous. But even it can’t save the lack of chemistry between Affleck and Tyler.

Directed by Steve Buscemi–who’s appeared in tons of films yet I always think of him as the homeless guy from Big Daddy–it’s true to its indie film genre (a little bit talky, a little bit slow). But with its refreshingly brief 91-minute runtime, it’s worth a look-see.

And the homeless guy from Big Daddy deserves credit for conveying the truth. I mean, really, this is how people in working-class middle America live: they reluctantly go to their jobs at the ladder factory, contemplate ending it all and leave their Christmas lights up too damn long.

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