Review: ‘JAMES WHITE’ makes escaping reality impossible.

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Josh Mond’s

JAMES WHITE

Starring Christopher Abbott, Cynthia Nixon, and Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi

James White poster

If you’ve ever watched someone die from cancer… if you’ve ever seen the downward spiral of a loved one… if you’ve ever been lost in a haze a grief and confusion, JAMES WHITE will speak to you. What does a young man, flailing in his own existence, do to cope with the idea that one of these days, his mother will not get better? Is escapism the answer? Josh Mond‘s directorial debut lets us into the skin and brain of one man’s story.

JAMES WHITE

JAMES WHITE- Christopher Abbot & Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi

As James’ mother’s health deteriorates, his ne’er do well lifestyle is forced to come to an end, but not before attempting to escape reality after the death of his estranged father. Triggering a getaway trip to Mexico with friends to avoid dealing with life, this drug, alcohol, and sex addled stay comes to an abrupt end when a call from Gail forces him to return to the couch of his childhood NYC home and take care of Mom 24 hrs a day. Struggling to put his bad boy behavior on the back burner, James walks the line between telling the world to fuck off and dropping his very existence to protect the woman he loves most in the world. As the plot progresses, we learn the this is not his first go round with mom’s illness. Do we forgive his behavior because of this? That’s for the individual to decide.

(L-R) CHRISTOPHER ABBOTT and CYNTHIA NIXON star in JAMES WHITE

(L-R) CHRISTOPHER ABBOTT and CYNTHIA NIXON star in JAMES WHITE

Mond’s script is partially based on his own experiences with his own mother. It is unapologetic and raw. You cannot take that away from Mond. No arguing that the film is ever dull or full of shit. It goes there fast and hard. Using cinematographer Mátyás Erdély was a genius move. Having recently seen Son of Saul at this year’s NYFF, his literal in your face, ultra close-up style of shooting, gives James White the immersive feeling the script calls for. I cannot imagine the film being in any other style. From the opening sequence, scored to perfection by co-star Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, with it’s organic feel and LOUD introduction, we immediately enter the world of a man who is grasping at straws to figure out who he is and what kind of person he wants/needs to be.

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Christopher Abbott gives an purely award-winning performance. His truth is on his sleeve 1000%. Somehow, through all the distasteful behavior he exhibits, you love him. Scott Mescudi is outstanding. As James’ best friend and long time player inside the family, his genuine interactions with Christopher and Cynthia feel so authentic, it’s almost hard to believe that this film isn’t a documentary at moments. Cynthia Nixon‘s portrayal of Gail is epic. With the film’s structure presented from month to month like chapters in a book, we are privy to the physical and mental changes her character endures. No matter the form of media, Nixon creates her own presence and we are lucky enough to witness it. The entire cast deserves all the accolades in the world, as does Mond for delivering a bold story.

JAMES WHITE will capture part of your soul. It allows you to let go and perhaps forgive yourself for past transgressions. Do yourself a favor and see this film.


 

Nominated for Three IFP Gotham Awards:

Christopher Abbott (Best Actor)

Josh Mond (Bingham Ray Breakthrough Actor Award) 

Audience Award

About JAMES WHITE

James White (Christopher Abbott) is a troubled twenty-something trying to stay afloat in a frenzied New York City. He retreats further into a self-destructive, hedonistic lifestyle, but as his mother (Cynthia Nixon) battles a serious illness James is forced to take control of his life. As the pressure on him mounts, James must find new reserves of strength or risk imploding completely.  The directorial debut of MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE producer Josh Mond,  JAMES WHITE, which had its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival 2014 where it was the winner of the “Best of Next” Audience Award, is a confident and closely observed debut that explores loss and the deep relationship between a mother and son.  Abbott’s strong central performance is aided by a stellar supporting cast featuring Cynthia Nixon (“Sex and the City”), Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi (“Comedy Bang! Bang!”), and Ron Livingston (DRINKING BUDDIES). Shot on location in New York City with an intimate visual style, JAMES WHITE follows its lead into deep, affecting places while still maintaining its fragile humanity. 

The Film Arcade will release JAMES WHITE on November 13th 

About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.