Just Jim, 2015.
Written and Directed by Craig Roberts.
Starring Emile Hirsch, Craig Roberts, Ryan Owen, Charlotte Randall, Nia Roberts and Aneirin Hughes.
A socially awkward Welsh teenager has his life altered forever when an enigmatic American moves in next door.
Impressing with its range of influences and studious attention to detail, Just Jim is a strikingly stylish directorial début from actor Craig Roberts (Submarine). It is his willingness to display all of his favoured genres and tropes that is simultaneously the film’s biggest draw and also its most obvious fault.
There is a film buff’s energy and dedication to cinema surrounding the feature which is both endearing and impressive, but occasionally grates with its exuberant wish to display all of the filmmaker’s cinematic concerns.
Also written by and starring Roberts, the film is an intriguing feature and it will be interesting to see how this talent develops.
The semi-autobiographical piece focuses on Jim, a school boy and film geek living in a lonely Welsh town. The only break from being bored and bullied comes from regular visits to the town’s cinema, where they play the same noirish film repeatedly. The film seems to be a channel into Jim’s imagination, as before long a cool rebel looking American (Emile Hirsh) named Dean (as in James, presumably) of the biker type moves in next door. The two develop a kind of intense teacher/pupil relationship with Dean attempting to coach Jim in how to be cool, talk to girls and be a hit at parties.
From then on in the film is a struggle between the two, and the story becomes gradually more intense and dark as the two personalities continue to clash. Indeed, a strong implication of the psychological story – given his cinematic obsessions – is that Dean has been dreamt up by Jim to liven up his dull existence.
While there is much to celebrate in Just Jim and Roberts looks set to have an interesting career one is sometimes left thinking that less could have been more…
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert W Monk is a freelance journalist and film writer.