out of Five
Running time: 87
Steve Buscemi's third film as director is a delightfully low-key comedy-drama with a great script and superb performances from Casey Affleck and Liv Tyler.
What's it all about?
Technically Steve Buscemi's third film as director, despite being released after his fourth, Lonesome Jim stars Casey Affleck as Jim, a depressed young man who begrudgingly comes back to Indiana to live with his parents after failing to make it in New York. However, as soon as he returns, he remembers why he was so keen to leave in the first place: his mother (Mary Kay Place) is well-meaning but overbearing, his father (Seymour Cassel) is emotionally stand-offish and his divorced older brother Tim (Kevin Corrigan) is even more depressed than he is.
When Tim "accidentally" crashes his car into a tree, Jim finds himself coaching his nieces' useless basketball team and taking Tim's job at his mother's company while his brother recovers. Meanwhile, a tentative relationship with local nurse Anika (Liv Tyler) and her young son (Jack Rovello) seems to offer a little hope.
Casey Affleck is perfectly cast as Jim and he does a huge amount with relatively little dialogue. In addition, Liv Tyler gives her most adorable performance to date as Anika, while there's strong support from Mary Kay Place, Kevin Corrigan and especially Mark Boone Junior as Jim's no-good uncle, Evil.
The script is packed full of great lines (I came home to have a nervous breakdown but the bastard beat me to it.
) and the plot is refreshingly free of the usual cliches, particularly with regard to the basketball scenes. Buscemi also includes several telling details (such as the pictures on Jim's wall) and the characters feel genuinely authentic throughout.
Lonesome Jim is one of the year's best films, thanks to a superb script, terrific performances and Buscemi's assured direction. It's only playing at the ICA, but it's well worth seeking out. Highly recommended.