actor, Steve Buscemi has a sort of beaten-down, desperate charm. He
has a generally nice, but just slightly twisted loser mentality – seeing
the beauty in surviving despite hardships and failure.
He has this same quality now that he is starting to spend more time as a director
than an actor. He has been behind some interesting dramatic moments
behind the camera – from the dead-end desperation of Trees Lounge to
the prison horror of Animal Factory to some of the best episodes of TV's The Sopranos.
Lonesome Jim is his first romantic comedy. Although it is never
really exactly what you could call funny, it does have an amiable shaggy dog
charm. You may not laugh out loud anywhere in the movie, but you will
smile through much of it.
Affleck plays Jim, a wannabe writer who has to move back to small town
America after an unproductive couple of years in New York, which have left
him unemployed, broke and despondent. In desperation he has to take a
bus to his old hometown and move in with his parents.
wallows in his misery; in his room he has a shrine to great authors who have
committed suicide. He hates his home and takes his pathos out on those
around him, being casually cruel to his parents and making an offhand remark
which may have even driven his brother to attempt suicide. (In all
fairness, with the exception of the mother, all of the members of the family
are constantly taking shots at each other.)
funny, so far, right?
loves and at the same time despises his mother. Mary Kay Place
wonderfully plays the role with an eternal, bruised perkiness. No
matter how many harsh roadblocks life places in front of her – and believe
me, she takes a lot – she just quietly regroups and tries to find the most
positive spin she possibly can on them.
finally finds a break in his clouds when a few things happen. When the
brother has his "accident," Jim is forced to take over the coaching of his
nieces' basketball team – an extraordinarily incompetent team which doesn't
even get a single basket until their last game. At first, Jim takes
the responsibility loosely, but eventually he starts to relate to their
enthusiastic attempts in the face of totally ineptitude. He also
starts working in his family's factory, watching as his uncle uses the place
as a drug store. When this brings legal problems for his parents, he
starts to realize their importance in his life.
also falls in love with a beautiful nurse (Liv Tyler) with whom he had a disastrous
one-night stand with before finding out she works in the hospital his
brother ends up in. As they get to know each other he also learns to
love her young son and sees them as a possible salvation. Tyler
is starting to get typecast as a beautiful and optimistic pixie who brings
manic-depressive guys out of their lifelong funks (see also: Jersey Girl,
Inventing the Abbotts, even The Lord of the Rings) – but I do
have to admit that she is good at the
Lonesome Jim takes its sweet old time getting to its somewhat inevitable
conclusion, but it has an individual quirky eye and ear that makes the ride
go by quickly and pleasantly. (9/06)
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Posted: September 9, 2006.