REVIEW: Jimmy P.

16 06 2014

Jimmy PCannes Film Festival – Official Competition, 2013

Every year, Cannes is known to select a dud or two for its official selection, an honor bestowed upon “Jimmy P.” at last year’s edition.  Arnaud Desplechin’s English-language debut, sometimes subtitled “Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian,” is a tedious bore whose two hour duration feels like two years.  I found myself dozing off repeatedly throughout the film, yet I felt like I hardly missed a thing when I would wake up.

Psychotherapy doesn’t have to be boring – just look at the films of Woody Allen, which incorporate the process humorously and insightfully into their proceedings.  (Heck, even the forgettable “A Dangerous Method” made it somewhat intriguing.)  Desplechin’s snooze-fest, on the other hand, is a clunky procedural that focuses on the nitty-gritty psychology.  The film adapts unconventional source material – essentially a textbook on psychotherapy – and fails to find what’s cinematic about it.

Furthermore, it yields little revelatory light on either of its characters, therapist George Devereux (Mathieu Amalric) or patient Jimmy Picard (Benicio del Toro).  Amalric and del Toro are both great actors, so it’s disappointing that Desplechin has them playing at such an understated level.  Del Toro gets a few shining moments given the fact that his character sustained traumatic injuries in World War II, but Amalric is absolutely affectless.

Not every great performance has to be over-the-top scenery chewing, but it always feels like “Jimmy P.” is holding back the big moment we need to fully make sense of the characters.  Aiming simultaneously too high with its adaptation and too low with its excessively cautious directing, the film is a fairly thorough misfire.  C-1halfstars