words by Bojana Duric
Josh Mond directs an emotional coming of age film about a young deadbeat trying to take care of his ill mother.
With producing several critically acclaimed films like Martha Marcy May Marlene and Afterschool, Mond finally makes his feature directorial debut with James White. Filled with moving moments, laughter and profound writing, James White strays away from your typical coming of age film yet still leaves you rooting for the protagonist to turn his life around and find his way.
After his estranged father’s funeral, James continues down a dangerous path of self-destruction. Living life recklessly – intense partying with his childhood friend Nick (played by Scott Mescudi aka Kid Cudi) and being unemployed – James spirals into a world that’s lonely and filled with anger. No one can stop or save him from himself until a tragic event leaves him reevaluating his life and the people around him. As if James’ life hasn’t given him enough curve balls, his mother Gail – played by Cynthia Nixon – has been diagnosed with cancer. Going through the process of chemo with his mother once before, James steps up to the plate as her caregiver. A young slacker turns into a caring and concerned son whose life now revolves around looking after his mother who doesn’t have much longer to live.
Christopher Abbott, who is mostly known for his role in Girls and a small part in A Most Violent Year, makes James a character that you want to see thrive even though he can be considered a screw up. There’s something about the character that allows you to look beyond the slacker tendencies and dig deep for a young man who is actually caring and talented but unfortunately was given a lousy deck of cards in life. His chemistry with Nixon is heart rendering with many rocky moments along the way. Nixon’s portrayal of a cancer patient was a convincing and painful take on how the disease consumes you and the people around you. There are moments where Gail is positive then there are scenes where she lashes out and other moments where she can’t do the simple things that once came so naturally. Though the thing that never changed throughout the film was the connection between James and Gail, the two people who could always rely on each other.
words by Bojana Duric