Jimmy P. (opening today) is the sort of film that should be important and compelling, but is neither. Partially shot in Michigan, it tells the story of an American Indian World War II veteran, Jimmy Picard (Benicio Del Toro) and his relationship with a French psychotherapist, Georges Devereux (Mathieu Amalric), set shortly after the war.
Jimmy is a Blackfoot Indian whom we first meet as he works out in the yard on his farm. But suddenly his vision gets all sparkly and he is overcome with some sort of...trauma. We learn that he is in the care of his sister and after sustaining a head injury during the war, he has been plagued with debilitating headaches, spells and numerous other symptoms.
In that day, apparently, top doctors felt that they couldn't properly diagnose Jimmy, probably because he was an Indian. He passes several tests and they can't quite seem to peg what's going on with him. They call in Georges Devereux to analyze Jimmy and to try to help him get to the bottom of his issues.
And therapy begins. Jimmy's mind is peeled back one layer at a time, and deeper issues are revealed.
The set-up seems interesting enough, but once Devereux enters the picture, the film becomes one long therapy session that never really leads to any real emotional payoff.
I was reminded of the brilliant HBO series, In Treatment, that almost entirely takes place in a psychiatrist's office and rarely includes anything more than talking. That show featured a multitude of interesting, engaging subjects, but best yet, it was only prescribed in small doses. No, In Treatment would not be the kind of show that would be binge-watched. Jimmy P., the film, suffers from the same problem. Compelling, but the large dose it is given may cause severe drowsiness. It doesn't help that not only is it a long-winded talk-fest, but Jimmy's speech pattern makes the session nearly unbearable.
By the time revelations begin to occur late in the film, it was too late. There's nothing quite wrong with the film in terms of the acting, but there just wasn't really enough here to lure in an audience that doesn't have a precise interest in psychotherapy.
Genre: Action, Mystery, Thriller
Run Time: 1 hour, 57 minutes, Not Rated
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Mathieu Amalric, Gina McKee, Larry Pine, Joseph Cross, Misty Upham
Co-Written & Directed by Arnaud Desplechin (Esther Kahn, Kings & Queens, A Christmas Tale)
Opens locally on Friday, March 7, 2014 (check for show times).
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How to read Tom Santilli's "Star Ratings:"
- 5 Stars: Exceptional, must-see movie
- 4 Stars: Very good movie, not without flaws
- 3 Stars: The movie was just OK, leaves a lot to be desired
- 2 Stars: Pretty bad, a let-down, disappointing, but with some redeeming qualities
- 1 Star: Awful, sloppy, a total waste of time