27-year old Jim (Casey Affleck) thought he had shaken off the dirt from his rural Indiana hometown when he went to New York City to hit it big. But, the only work he can find is as a dog walker. Needless to say, that job won’t pay the bills and, after a long and fruitless struggle, he heads back home to move back in (yikes!) with his parents. When his even more depressed brother, Tim (Kevin Corrigan), cracks up his car and lands in the hospital, Jim’s parents (Mary Kay Place and Seymour Cassel) insist he take over for Tim at their factory. Things keep going down hill for Lonesome Jim.”
Director Steve Buscemi brings us a slacker’s tale as we meet Jim, miserably hitchhiking from New York to Indiana in the dead of winter. He reluctantly knocks on his parents’ door but is greeted, with delight, by his mother. His father and brother, though, are less than thrilled by Jim’s return. Tim is particularly affected by the return of the prodigal son, especially when Jim tells him, “I’m a f***up but you’re a g**damned disaster.” Shortly after, Tim drives his car into a tree and ends up in a coma.
Jim, grudgingly, goes to work at the ladder factory and is teamed with his uncle (Mark Boone Junior), call me Evil,” who deals pot at the factory and becomes the catalyst for even more overwhelming family disasters. His actions also force Jim to make a decision that could adversely affect the family even more if he does the right thing.
Things are tempered by the arrival of a pretty single mom, Anika (Liv Tyler), a nurse at the hospital holding Tim. She agrees to go out with Jim and a little romance ensues. Anika wants to get out of town with Jim and her son, Ben (Jack Rovello), but ambitionless slacker Jim dashes her dreams with indecision. Even when he agrees to coach Tim’s elementary school girls’ basketball team, during Tim’s convalescence, he sits on the sideline smoking butts and leaving the kids to do whatever they want – which doesn’t necessarily include playing basketball.
Lonesome Jim” isn’t for all tastes. It is very low-key with little action, minimalist performances, muttered dialog and grainy look. But, there is something intriguing in this slacker tale. Casey Affleck has an unusual presence and there is chemistry between him and Liv Tyler, who is well cast as the young single mom. Mary Kay Place makes the role of Jim’s mother her own, starting off as intrusive and clueless but rounding out her character to a fully developed, kind hearted woman who loves her family and friends. Kevin Corrigan is even more morose as Tim, a single father trying to raise two girls under his parents’ roof – no wonder he has suicidal tendencies. Mark Boone Junior also gives a character arc as the no good brother as he starts out as the harmless “snack” man, but becomes Jim’s adversary because of his illicit, family shattering actions.
This is a no-budget film and it looks it. The charm is in the quirky writing (by James C. Strouse), offbeat acting and interesting direction by Steve Buscemi. I give it a B-.Laura:
Laura did not see this film.
Home | Reviews and Ratings Archive | Top 10 | Video | Crew | Article | Links