Josh Mond, producer of the Sundance favorite, Martha Marcy May Marlene , brings his directorial and writing debut to Sundance, with his very personal film James White, which highlights one of the hardest things to deal with-- the loss of a loved one.
James White is about the journey of a young man of the same name (Christopher Abbott) on a personal metamorphosis. It reiterates the old adage to "be kind for everyone is fighting a hard battle". This is especially true for James, who is on the brink of implosion, as he tries to transition into adulthood while dealing with the loss of a family member, surely the hardest thing he has ever had to deal with in his life.
Everyone grieves differently, some silently, some with rage, others with substances to numb the reality of a situation. The film articulates the grieving process like no other. I was very impressed by Abbott's portrayal of a young man unable to come to terms with his life and current state of mind. The film was very realistic in the way each character tries to cope and wrap their heads around such catastrophic events. The acting from the supporting cast really helps the film reach its full potential. Cynthia Nixon is a revelation here as James' mom, Gail White and compliments Abbott's characters fragile nature.
The cinematography really suited the tone of the film well. There was a variety of guerilla-style close-ups that made the film feel like a documentary rather than a feature. This stylistic approach added to the effectiveness of the movie.
James White is more of a rite of passage than an actual film. It really drives home the fact that when people are at a crossroads they either crumble or get back up and resume living. Josh Mond created a very hypnotic and hauntingly beautiful feature debut that it's sure to leave a lasting impression; I know it did for me.