LONESOME JIM (Steve Buscemi). 91 minutes. Opens Friday (May 19). For venues and time, see Movies page 110. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Most people assume that the movies critics hate are the most painful to sit through, but the real tragedies are the ones for which I feel nothing.
The awful ones are torture, but at least they arouse my ire. Movies like Lonesome Jim provoke no response whatsoever. Perhaps it's contagious, since protagonist Jim ( Casey Affleck ) and many of the other characters suffer from the same apathy.
I can't completely blame writer James C. Strouse . His semi-biographical tale has promise and distinguishes itself nicely from other prodigal-son-returns-home films, particularly in providing fleshed-out characters like Jim's enabling mother ( Mary Kay Place ) and sad-sack brother Tim ( Kevin Corrigan , again proving his chameleon abilities).
I can't blame it entirely on Steve Buscemi . As a director, he's shown that he understands details, shooting in the writer's own hometown and capturing the small-town malaise, capitalizing on grainy photography, depicting the awkwardness of Jim's family and sex life (with Liv Tyler ) and letting the camera linger to reveal the heartbeat of a scene.
I blame Affleck, who doesn't have half-brother Ben's charisma, and that's saying something. It's one thing for Jim to be indifferent, numbed out and drifting through life. Sleepwalking through the performance is another matter altogether.