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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Movie Review - James White

James White (2015)
Starring Christopher Abbott, Cynthia Nixon, Scott Mescudi, Makenzie Leigh, and Ron Livingston
Directed by Josh Mond
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

Grippingly acted, James White is a beautifully heartbreaking look at the relationship between the self-destructive twenty-something title character (played by Christopher Abbott) and his ailing, cancer-stricken mother Gail (Cynthia Nixon) who hopes to change her sons hard-drinking and drugging days before her days may possibly end.  Simplicity rules the day here in debut director/screenwriter Josh Mond's first film and while it takes a little while to find its footing, James White ends with a final act that is one of the more grippingly emotional pieces of film from 2015.

The key to the success of James White which is a hugely character-driven piece is in the wonderful performances of Christopher Abbott and Cynthia Nixon whose interplay with one another is top notch.  Nixon captivates as a grieving mother (her ex-husband, James' father, has just died as the film opens) who is then forced to deal with a reoccurrence of cancer that had stricken her in times past.  Heartbreaking in her realistic portrayal, Nixon's deterioration highlights the toll cancer has on its victims.  Christopher Abbott comes out of nowhere (he's been in a few flicks I've seen, but has hardly stood out) and delivers one heck of a powerhouse performance as a New Yorker who uses alcohol (and some drugs) to mask his pain -- pain caused by the lack of a job, his father's death, his mother's illness -- a seemingly never-ending list.  The intensity James bottles up (and Abbott skillfully depicts) bursts out sometimes in painfully unfortunate ways, but his character's journey from his mother's son to his mother's caretaker and the emotional toll that takes is exquisitely portrayed by actor.

James White takes a little while to get started.  In fact, there was a moment where I thought I might turn this one off.  However, in the end, the film pays off big time as the relationship between James and Gail is one of the most realistic and touching interactions I saw captured for the screen in 2015.  Stick this one out and you'll be treated to one of the more emotional flicks of the past year.

The RyMickey Rating:  B+

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