James White – BFI LFF 2015 Review

Josh Mond, producer of Martha Marcy May Marlene delivers his first debut feature about a young wreck less adult James White, played by Christopher Abbot, who has failed to venture past a life of sex drugs and alcohol. After the passing of his father, James promises his mother that he will get his life back on track after a vacation, only to be interrupted by his mother’s return of cancer, played stupendously by Cynthia Nixon.

Like Martha Marcy May Marlene, James White is a difficult watch but equally captivating. Volatile, violent, emotionally bottled up, contradictory; James does not ride upon a great deal of likable qualities, but on the other side of the coin, is a soldier when trying to take care of his mother. As Gail’s cancer progresses it leads to the assumption whether James can ever recover or take the leap into someone who can take care of himself.

It’s a strong debut from Mond and pitch perfect performances from Abbot and Nixon make James White a strong character driven life drama that will leave the audience feeling bleak and unnerved that will leave an impression for a few hours, although unlikely to imprint upon one’s memory in the long term.

***

Chris Aitken

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