Lonesome Jim, like so many indie heroes before him, went to New York in search of his dream, and New York told him: "get back on the bus to Indiana before we really hurt you." So, having failed to make it as a writer, he mopes around at home, getting under his parents' feet and feeling sorry for himself. Steve Buscemi's third film as a director is a low key affair delivered with a wry sense of humour.
Jim (Casey Affleck) isn't a protagonist one can easily identify with: he's pretentious, moody and self-obsessed. How he manages to pull Liv Tyler's feisty nurse is never really explained (although, OK, he's pretty good looking). But Buscemi's film is not trying to get us to root for Jim, with his big city dreams and small town phobias. It's trying to teach both him and us a little lesson in humility.
"A CUT ABOVE THE AVERAGE"
When his brother attempts a suicide, Jim finds himself drawn back into smalltown life. Before long he's working at the local ladder factory, getting to know his drug-dealing uncle and attempting to coach the no-hoper girl's basketball team. Performances are classy all round; Affleck works quiet wonders with his dour character, and he's well supported by Mary-Kay Place and Seymour Cassel as his long suffering parents. Buscemi shoots everything with an unobtrusive flair. In all, this is a cut above the average quirky homecoming drama, even if we've heard most of what it has to say before.
Lonesome Jim is out in the UK on 11th April 2008.