Some films never achieve greatness, but still manage to leave their viewers with a wry smile, and a “that wasn’t so bad, I’m glad I watched it” mentality. Lonesome Jim from IFC Films is one such motion picture. Starring Casey Affleck and Liv Tyler and directed by Steve Buscemi, this is one mood-swinging comedy that will lull you into complacency, then occasionally drop large hilarious bombs into the experience when least expected. Centered on a depressing, tight-lipped, tell-it-like-it-is, loner, who is for…ed back into the misery of his parents’ house when he runs out of money, Lonesome Jim dramatizes a dreary journey from stark hopelessness to undying optimism. The laughs don’t come easy, but hang around, and you’ll reap the rewards.
Affleck and Tyler are familiar with one another, albeit in a six-degrees-of-Kevin Bacon sort of way, as Tyler previously played opposite the other Affleck in two films – Armageddon and Jersey Girl. Now she’s changing out for the younger brother, and I think the result is a better romance than Jersey Girl, but a lesser film than Armageddon. Holding it all together is Buscemi’s increasingly competent direction. (If you’ve seen his previous effort Trees’ Lounge you’ll know the kind of quirky comedy to expect here.) It’s a refreshing film, but not an uproarious one. Mary Kay Place, Seymour Cassel, and Mark Boone Junior, also star.
The film was shot on a Panasonic AG-DVX100, and blown up to 35mm on the print format. According to Buscemi, the production did not possess the time or the money to light the film effectively, and much of the color correction had to be handled in post-production. The result is a notoriously grainy image, especially for a film so new – but such is the hazard of no-budget independent filmmaking. Some may like that added quality, but rest assured, ideal conditions would have produced a much cleaner image.
The soundtrack offers 2.0 capabilities, which should suit the needs of a film such as this just right. However, I didn’t feel it was the cleanest audio presentation in this particular instance. The sound doesn’t seem to stop, even during the silent portions, which means there is a bit of a low hiss – nothing too obtrusive, but not great either – throughout the whole of the film. Still, a super 5.1 track would have been absolute overkill, as would post-production budget dollars to get this one perfect.
Buscemi and writer James C. Strouse offer up fine tidbits in the “making-of” department through their rather laid-back audio commentary together. Most of the budget woes are outlined, lending reason to the film’s cheap, under-funded look. The Special Making-Of Featurette is pretty much filler in comparison.
I like independent filmmaking when it’s done right. I think Buscemi is a fine, capable director, and he has made a perfectly acceptable piece of mellow comedy. Unfortunately, indie films such as these bring along the baggage of a less than suitable budget, and that feeling comes through in Lonesome Jim, loud and clear. The A/V suffers as a result. As for bonus materials, I will liken them to the 2.0 track – any more than what is provided would have run the risk of being overkill.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary with Director Steve Buscemi and Writer James C. Strouse
- Special Making-Of Featurette