James White Review


I Know it’s Over

by Aaron Kent


James White is miserable, not the film – although it is pretty bleak – but the protagonist. He’s dealing with the death of his father, the imminent death of his mother and the ever-depressing existential crisis that comes with being young and living in New York. Or at least, that’s how it seems – none of that ‘you’re living in the best city in the world’ bullshit, nope, sometimes life sucks regardless of where you are.

After leaving a prominent role as Charlie on HBO’s Girls due to a reported lack of relation to the character, it seems strange that Christopher Abbott has chosen to play a similar individual in James White. Yet, after just a few minutes it becomes clear that this outing is much more complex than that of the one-dimensional character Abbot left behind. As the film proceeds it becomes increasingly clear that Abbott may have left due to a need to prove himself, something he succeeds in doing.

Alongside Abbott, Scott Mescudi (Kid Cudi) showcases the acting chops that worked so wonderfully in the underrated How To Make It In America – a show that deserved a lot more than the two seasons it was given. Mescudi is excellent as James White’s right-hand man and this is at its clearest in a fantastic scene where Mescudi attempts to fight his best friend’s demons in a noiresque hotel room during a drug binge. The ensuing argument and heated exchanges between the pair is an exceptional watch.

There isn’t much to the plot beside dealing with grief, which is what makes the film so rewarding, and occasionally frustrating. Everyone has to deal with death at some point or another, and the inevitability of James’ mother’s death – Cynthia Nixon is in superb form throughout, showing why she was always the strongest actor in the Sex and the City cast – is dealt with perfectly as her cancer demonstrates both the bravery of a battle, and the sadness of losing. If James White is anything, it’s true to the nature of loss. However, the film can become tiresome when it spends too long salivating over Abbott contemplating his own struggles, moments that are better served when he fights for his mother to get a bed in a hospital, or drops everything on holiday to get back to her side.

James White is a smart film, one that should put writer-director Josh Mond in the frame for bigger and better things. It really is a miserable film, but at least it’s honest.

The Film 4/5

The Package 3/5

FIW Rating 4/5

James White is available on DVD February 29th courtesy of Soda Pictures. Order your copy here.

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