One of my favorite actors has directed one of my favorite films... wait, no he hasn't.
Steve Buscemi. Beautiful. Handsome. Terrific. World-class director. And then there's "Lonesome Jim," a surprisingly decent drama-comedy that really never rises above but still manages to entertain nonetheless.
The movie stars Casey Affleck as the title character, a 27-year old man who has returned from New York to live with his eccentric parents after his career fizzled and was destroyed long before it ever started. His brother is even more pathetic and even a bit suicidal, and the only one in a truly good mood seems to be his mother. Still, when he meets Anika (Liv Tyler), a nice, sweet nurse (who likes to get laid a lot), things may be looking up - but his troubles are only just beginning.
"Lonesome Jim" is one of those movies that is essentially a drama that is so matter-of-fact that it is actually a comedy, and in that way Buscemi succeeds just fine. While the story, written by James C. Strouse, may be a bit too serious to sustain a comedy for an hour and a half, it still works on some rudimentary level, as long as you are open to genre-swapping a few times (by that I mean it flips from comedy to drama to comedy to drama and so on and so forth).
The scenes where the whole family is involved are the most entertaining, as both Mary Kay Place and Seymour Cassel turn in great performances as Jim's parents. Affleck himself may be a little too subdued for his own good - he appears to be the voice of reason in his family, but his laziness really doesn't exude that to a point where we can root for him. More so, his lack of enthusiasm affects the believability of his relationship with Tyler. Why would a beautiful girl be interested in someone who shows such little interest, other than that playing-hard-to-get bullshit? Regardless, Affleck does a good job otherwise.
The movie works in its own quirky way, but the story perhaps gets a little too dark for its own good. That's not to say that this film veers into the most horrible kinds of things imaginable, but Buscemi certainly loses his focus on the comedy for a while. It wouldn't be a big deal if the subtitle to the movie wasn't clearly printed on the DVD cover as "A Comedy from Steve Buscemi."
Ultimately, "Lonesome Jim" has some funny moments and some dramatic moments. Unfortunately, the funny moments come too few and far between, and the drama is nothing to scream about. There is nothing inherently wrong about the picture, but had Buscemi tried to be a bit funnier in a few places this movie really could have taken off. Still, for those who like quirky, indie films, you could certainly do worse. Marginally recommended.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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