Everyone now and again, you will watch a film that alters your perception of the world. The themes of the film will resonate with you, and you’ll be able stop, and take a step back and consider the current events of your life. James White, a film produced by the indie studio Borderline Films, whose filmography includes the works of Martha Marcy May Marlene and Afterschool, is a movie which will have that very effect on filmgoers.
James White highlights the struggles that many young adults go through of trying to discover who they are, and how they are going to sort their life out. Many of us often believe that they are able to walk away from their life, and return with everything being magically fixed, but often that is not the case. The film is set in motion by title character James White (played by Christopher Abbott) seen stumbling inebriated through a club, and only exiting once the sun has come out, suggesting he has been there all night. White then attends a Shive service of his recently deceased father, despite the fact that he did not have a strong relationship with him (the service is the first time he meets his father’s new wife). White is shown to be incredibly close with his mother (played by Cynthia Nixon) who has previously been through cancer treatments, although she seems to have passed the worst of it all. White believes that if he gets away from his current life and takes a holiday to Mexico, he will be able to sort his life out when he returns, unfortunately though this is not the case. It is while on holiday that White hears the news that his mother’s cancer has returned, and White has to face the reality that you can not always run away from your problems.
James White was written and directed by Josh Mond, who is making his feature film directorial debut. The film premiered at Sundance in 2015, and was awarded the NEXT Audience award. Mond does not shy away from the facts of real life – that making a change is hard work. Mond utilises extreme close ups of White to display the amount of agony that he is experiencing throughout the movie, and does not let the viewer forget that despite the fact White is ready to make a change, he is still struggling to get rid of his old life.
The film would not be what it is, without the incredible work of Christopher Abbott, who perfectly performs the anguish that White is experiencing throughout the film. Abbott was able to find the line in his acting that made you as a viewer want to root for White to get his life on track and sympathise with his current situation but also understand that White is in his current situation because of no one else but him. Abbott’s work is beautifully matched with Cynthia Nixon, playing James White’s mother Gail White, who wants to see nothing but her son be happy in life, and understand the path he will take. There is an incredibly touching scene in the movie, which highlights the relationship between Gail and James, and surely will leave viewers in puddles of their own tears. Such moments could not be possible without such incredible actors, and Nixon and Abbott leave nothing on the table in their performances.
Perhaps being an indie film, is the reason that James White was so beautifully made, as there was no interference by major film studios. James White was crowd funded by Kick Starter in order to complete their post production, and the film truly reflects a movie that was created, not to turn over massive box office profit, but to tell a story that reflects the challenges that many people face in their real life.
James White is a stunning composition of drama and heartache, and a must see for anyone who is tired of seeing movies that focus on bells and whistles, and are looking for a movie that just unapologetically focuses on the story at hand.