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Review: James White

There is a raw sense of visual closeness to Josh Mond’s James White, and the enjoyment of the film is certainly dependent upon the ability to accept pain.

The film offers no easy answers on how to heal, and the main character, James White (Christopher Abbott) appears in a tight frame about ninety percent of the film. He is an unrepentant louse, but to understand James White, we first have to understand James White.

The supporting turns by Cynthia Nixon, Makenzie Leigh, Ron LIvingston and Scott Mescudi (!) play at the film’s periphery. Some more than others, especially Nixon command their corner of the screen. Yet the film belongs first and foremost to Abbott, (and one supposes, to Mond).

This performance by Abbott saps all of the likability away from this character. There is little hint of a redemptive arc, and certainly no sign of a reformation.

In a year where a startling number of films with bleak material have hinted at rehabilitation, James White seems to remains who he is, especially in the presence of deep grief.

The question that James White astutely raises is when does a person become overreliant on the circumstances beyond their control, and when must they move forward, shedding the boy and becoming the man.

What lingers on in James White is whether we are willing to continue to accept this type of behaviour.

James White opens this Friday, November 27th in Toronto at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Vancouver at Vancity, Calgary at The Globe, Edmonton at The Princess Theatre, and Ottawa at Mayfair Theatre , December 2nd in Montreal at PHI Centre and Saskatoon at Roxy Theatre on December 4th.

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