6 years

Review: Lonesome Jim (2005)

Lonesome Jim is a sensitive take on life’s failures, starring Casey Affleck, Liv Tyler, Kevin Corrigan, and directed by Steve Buscemi

A review of Lonesome Jim

Lonesome Jim is a little known indie gem by Steve Buscemi. It centres on perpetually depressed twenty-seven year old Jim (Casey Affleck) as returns to his small town home in Indiana after having failed as a novelist in New York.

What works well about Lonesome Jim is that Steve Buscemi has a knack for telling stories about life’s low points. Lonesome Jim is all about failure and not living up to the expectations of life. Jim is not the only failure in his family. His brother Tim (Kevin Corrigan) is also not living the life he expected. In fact, Tim is very much central to the story. Tim attempts suicide after Jim tells him how badly he has failed at all of his life’s dreams. Through this suicide attempt, Jim meets Anika (Liv Tyler) a nurse who treats Tim. A relationship develops and through this, Jim starts to slowly learn how to be happy with the life he has.

The narrative to Lonesome Jim starts off intriguingly enough.  Buscemi has a knack as a Director for developing his characters at a slow and steady pace. The choice to set it in a small Mid-Western town in America was well thought out. Throughout the entirety of the film, Jim feels claustrophobic in his hometown, and it shows through Affleck’s performance as he feels very uncomfortable about the changes to his life. Affleck’s control over his emotions is excellent as well. Upon finding out about Tim’s suicide attempt, his facial expressions alone tell the guilt he was feeling. Not a single word needed to be said. The narrative loses steam in the third act, and no matter how solid the acting is from all ends, it’s not enough to carry the weight of the dull writing at the end.

Lonesome Jim is easy enough to enjoy. Buscemi has a real understanding about how subtle humour should be employed in cinema. However, sometimes the writing was too subtle; some of the jokes got lost by simply trying too hard. Affleck’s performance of a bored and depressed Jim enables him to deliver his lines with absolute perfection, which makes him a real joy to watch at times. However, a weak soundtrack and cinematography crippled the enjoyment of this film. Considering Lonesome Jim was shot on an extremely tight budget, the soundtrack is nearly non-existent, with maybe one or two tracks used sparingly. Shot on the MiniDV format, several scenes in low-light were very grainy, and detracted from the immersion of the film. Whilst framing was generally good, the poor-lighting and grainy footage really let Lonesome Jim down.

On the whole, Lonesome Jim was a refreshing watch. It was nice to see a film not tied down by traditional genre conventions, and especially by a Hollywood veteran like Steve Buscemi who is all too familiar with Hollywood storytelling. The themes of suicide, desperation, isolation, failure and loneliness are treated very sensitively, yet the story didn’t flow together all that well, leaving it hard to be completely drawn into it.

  • Excellent acting from a script that showed moments of brilliance
  • Story is let down as Steve Buscemi struggles to keep a handle on directing

Discussion feed

  • Hey Sam! I can't attach a feature picture to this post, is it something to do with my permission access on the new system? Best, Tom
  • Hey Sam, it's the new system, I'm just trying it out for my latest podcast episode with Greg Lucey and I'm trying to attach a picture - it uploads the picture and then says I don't have permission to attach it :(
  • Hi Tom, I'll look into this today. I think I already know what the issue is. It's because the media being uploaded is not associating itself to a post ID. Thank you for being my test dummy. At least this creation dialogue is working!!!
  • Hey Sam, I've tried again just now still the same issues I'm afraid :( I'd also look at the text editor I'm not sure if the texted/front is properly formatting at the moment (there's big gapes in the spacing, front size). If you want to jump around inside my draft and see what's what please do! I think I am going to use the legacy editor to upload today, but we can work  on testing and refining the new editor together :) Best, Tom

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