London Film Festival: ‘James White’ Film Review

By Leslie Byron Pitt @Afrofilmviewer

Despite showing up in films such as A Most Violent Year (2014) and Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011), Christopher Abbott is still probably best known for his two year stint as the sensitive Charlie in Lena Dunham’s Girls. Abbott sheds this cleaner cut image he’s most connected with, to become the heavy drinking, aggressive and self-destructive James White in the film that bares the character’s name.

We enter James’ life in the eye of a perfect storm. Soon after the wake of his father’s death, White’s Mother (Cynthia Nixon) soon enters a battle with a serious illness. With his lifestyle already immersed in a strong level of hedonism, James must face up and contend with the uphill struggles that look to overwhelm him.

A dark and uncompromising film, James White accurately broadcasts its message through its tightly compressed visuals and accomplished performances. From the difficulties of maintaining calm while his mother lies in the ER, to the slow deterioration of close friendships, James White’s cramped compositions are only ever matched by the strained and emotional faces which feature within them. The film not only presents such sobering material in a consuming way, but never allows us to truly escape the pain which is expressed.

Abbott’s performance is one that should get him noted as a consummate performer. It’s a display that is brooding, stubborn and assertive. However, Nixon should also grab some plaudits with her accurate portrayal of a cancer patient. It’s the type of performance that reminds viewers who really was the gem of the Sex and the City quartet.

James White is on at cinemas this week as a part of The London Film Festival, listings here.

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