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sexta-feira, 13 de novembro de 2015

Review: In ‘James White,’ Facing Adulthood With Uncertainty

James White” burrows so deeply into the consciousness of its title character, a flailing young Manhattanite played by Christopher Abbott(“Girls”), that his self-loathing and panic feel contagious. Who hasn’t, at a certain point in life, faced a sink-or-swim moment when a promising future suddenly began to seem out of reach? James combats the terror of grown-up responsibility with copious amounts of booze and late-night carousing in which he picks fights in bars and behaves like a brat. But Mr. Abbott’s performance makes you aware that James’s bad behavior stems from fear; deep down he has a warm heart.

The opening scene observes James in a daze amid the deafening clamor of an after-hours club. Plunging into the harsh morning light, he takes a taxi to the Upper West Side apartment of his mother, Gail (Cynthia Nixon), where guests are observing the Jewish custom of sitting shiva for his dead father. Barging into the gathering like a rowdy party guest, he is conspicuously rude and boorish.

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Anatomy of a Scene | ‘James White’

Josh Mond narrates the opening sequence from “James White,” featuring Christopher Abbott.
 By MEKADO MURPHY on Publish DateNovember 12, 2015. Photo by Film Arcade. Watch in Times Video »

A latter-day slacker with vague writing ambitions, James sleeps on a couch in Gail’s apartment, where he is her fly-by-night caretaker. As the story begins, she is being treated for Stage 4 cancer. There is talk of his getting a job at New York Magazine through a family connection, although it is obvious that he is in no condition to work. His best friend and wingman, Nick (Scott Mescudi a.k.a. Kid Cudi), tries to keep him in line, but to little avail.
This feature directorial debut of Josh Mond, who also wrote this film and who produced “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” is an exquisitely acted portrait of Gail and James’s fraught bond. Gail, who loves her son unconditionally, gently prods him to find his own place and get a job. But even when she reprimands him, her tone is forgiving.
Before James begins to face his uncertain future, he travels to Mexico,

where he meets a young woman who accompanies him back to New York after news arrives that Gail has taken a turn for the worse. The moment of truth has arrived.

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Movie Review: ‘James White’

The Times critic Stephen Holden reviews “James White.”
 By AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER and ROBIN LINDSAY on Publish DateNovember 12, 2015.Photo by Film Arcade. Watch in Times Video »

Ms. Nixon gives one of the year’s most heart-rending screen performances. James and Gail’s scenes evoke the most poignant moments of Margaret Edson’s play, “Wit,” whose 2012 revival starred Ms. Nixon as a dying cancer patient.
Shot hand-held, “James White” conveys a compressed sense of time. Suddenly James is back in New York. Just as suddenly, he is holed up for a night in a luxury building. The movie’s refusal to explain James’s peripatetic ways lends it an extra edge of anxious frenzy. Its abrasive portrait of contemporary New York as a place of noise and nerve-rattling turmoil captures the mood of the city more accurately than any recent film I can think of. And the jagged camera work exacerbates the film’s jarring sense of immediacy.
“James White” doesn’t soften its message: You can only avoid facing reality for so long, until it catches up with you. Then it grabs you by the throat.
“James White” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian) for drug use, some nudity and language. Running time: 1 hour 25 minutes.

A young man dealing with the loss of his estranged father and the continued care of his ailing mother is at the center of “James White,” the directorial debut of Josh Mond. He is part of a filmmaking collaborative called Borderline Films that includes Antonio Campos (“Afterschool”) and Sean Durkin (“Martha Marcy May Marlene”). The film stars Christopher Abbott and Cynthia Nixon and traverses dark, painful terrain.
This opening scene shows the lead character (Mr. Abbott) in a club, high and seeking an escape. In an interview, Mr. Mond discussed the scene and more about his film. Below are edited excerpts from that conversation.
Q. Where did the idea for “James White” come from?
A. My mother passed away four and a half years ago to cancer. I was raised by a single mother. It was definitely a very hard thing to go through with her. My filmmaking partners and a lot of people in my life were really encouraging me to tackle what I didn’t understand.

Was it difficult for you to make a film about loss, having gone through this yourself?
In the writing process, it was up and down. It was really dark at times, really exciting at times. But in retrospect, it was amazing to feel the love I was getting. My partners were so heavily involved and were as emotionally connected to the material as I was. It just makes you realize how loved you are.
What was your process for working with your actors?
It was extremely impulsive. I kind of approached it like I would approach friendships. I just tried to be as honest and open as possible in trying to connect, so they could feel as open with me. From the beginning, I shared everything I needed to with them personally. I felt like there was a safe environment on set for people to really explore.
We shot many of the scenes in one setup, so they would be able to play the whole scene out with no break in emotion. We lit the scenes so that they were 360, and they could go anywhere they wanted. I like to admit that I don’t have all the answers, and I welcome suggestions. This was a pure collaboration.

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