Lonesome Jim

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Lonesome Jim
Lonesome Jim DVD cover.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Steve Buscemi
Produced by Jake Abraham,
Galt Niederhoffer,
Celine Rattray
Daniela Taplin Lundberg
Gary Winick
Written by James C. Strouse
Starring Casey Affleck
Liv Tyler
Kevin Corrigan
Mary Kay Place
Seymour Cassel
Mark Boone Junior
Music by Evan Lurie
Cinematography Phil Parmet
Edited by Plummy Tucker
Distributed by United States
IFC Films
Lions Gate Entertainment
Release dates January 22, 2005 (2005-01-22) (Sundance Film Festival)
Running time 91 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $500,000
Box office $174,815

Lonesome Jim is a 2005 American comedy/drama film directed by Steve Buscemi. Filmed mostly in the city of Goshen, Indiana, the film stars Casey Affleck as a chronically depressed aspiring novelist who moves back into his parents' home after failing to make it in New York City. Liv Tyler also stars as a good-hearted nurse who finds contentment through encouraging optimism in Jim's glum world.

Lonesome Jim premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize[1] but it lost the award to Ira Sachs' Forty Shades of Blue.[2]


Jim (Casey Affleck) is a perennially gloomy 27 year-old aspiring novelist from Goshen, Indiana who moved to New York City in hopes of finding success with his writing. After two years of barely making a living as a dog walker, he defeatedly decides to move back home to his parents' house in Goshen.

Jim's 32 year-old brother Tim (Kevin Corrigan) is a recently divorced father of two young girls whose business recently failed. Tim has moved back into his parents' home and he works in the ladder factory that's owned and operated by their pessimistic father Don (Seymour Cassel) and overly cheerful mother Sally (Mary Kay Place). Jim has no interest in the family business and he resists pressure from Don to start working there.

Jim meets Anika (Liv Tyler), a nurse, in a bar and they end up having sex in a hospital bed, though Jim finishes embarrassingly early.

After an argument between the two brothers on whose life has been more pathetic so far, Tim, having previously made repeated unsuccessful attempts to commit suicide, drives his car into a tree in hopes of ending his life; he is gravely injured and hospitalized. Jim now finally gives in to Don's pressure to work in the factory by taking over Tim's duties. He also takes over Tim's job as the coach of a girls basketball team; the team, which has not scored a single point in the last 14 games, includes both of Tim's daughters.

While visiting Tim is in the hospital, Jim runs into Anika, who works in another department. They arrange a date, but on arriving to collect her, he discovers she is a single mother. Their relationship progresses, however. Anika is sympathetic to Jim's problems, and she decides to stand by him in encouragement even when he tries to convince her that it's in her best interest to not be around him.

At the ladder factory, Jim encounters his uncle Stacy (Mark Boone Junior), who prefers to be called "Evil." Jim seeks advice from Evil about premature ejaculation, and they become friends of a sort. Evil offers Jim some recreational drugs and asks Jim to open a checking account for him so he can pay for things by mail. Evil gives Jim $4,000, saying it is saved-up birthday and Christmas presents.

Jim's mother, Sally, is arrested by DEA officers for allegedly shipping illegal drugs through the store's Fedex account. It transpires that Evil is the drug dealer, but Jim cannot persuade him to confess. Evil points out that Jim will be implicated if he tries to report Evil, as he has opened an account with Evil's cash and will test positive for drug use. Eternal optimist that she is, Sally finds happiness in her new surroundings and makes friends with her fellow prisoners. Eventually she is released on bail.

Despite working a job he hates and feeling responsible for his mother's imprisonment, Jim slowly allows his monumental depression to be dismantled by Anika and finds himself believing that life is worth living. Jim invites Anika and her son to move to New Orleans with him, but after Jim vacillates, she is offended and this seems to be off the cards. Jim finally decides to leave town for New Orleans by himself, leaving a note for his parents promising not to take their love for granted again and revealing Evil as the drug dealer. Anika shows up at the bus station to say good-bye, but seems to Jim miss the opportunity to reconcile with her. Jim departs on the bus, but as Anika drives home with her son, Jim is seen running after them, luggage in hand.



The film was originally a part of a deal with Universal Studios and had a proposed budget of $3 million. However, the deal with Universal was unexpectedly cancelled and Lonesome Jim then ended up being shot and produced on a meager budget of $500,000 with the original filming schedule being reduced from 30 down to 17 days.[3][4][5] As a cost-saving measure, screenplay writer James C. Strouse, a native of Goshen, Indiana, employed two of his nieces as actors in the film, another family member as location manager, as well he used his parents' home and factory as a location for Jim's parents' home and factory.[6][7] More money was saved by recording the entire film onto a mini-DV digital video camera rather than a film camera.[7][8]

Critical reception and box office[edit]

During its theatrical run, Lonesome Jim never earned back its initial budget of $500,000; instead, the film grossed less than $155,000 domestically and less than $175,000 worldwide.[9]

The film received mixed reaction from film critics. The aggregate review websites Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic record a rating of 60 percent[10] and 54/100[11] respectively as of October 28, 2008. Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film three stars out of four,[12] and it also received "Two thumbs up" on the film review television program At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper co-hosted by Richard Roeper.[13] Mathew Turner of View London proclaimed "Lonesome Jim is one of the year's best films, thanks to a superb script, terrific performances and Buscemi's assured direction".[14] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone awarded it three stars out of four, calling the film a "deadpan delight" and proclaiming "I can't recall having a better time at a movie about depression".[15] Critic Christopher Campbell declared the film "hilarious throughout. By far it is the funniest thing I saw during the [Sundance film] festival".[16]

Stephen Holden of The New York Times did not give the film a very favorable review, criticizing the film's sense of humor by calling it "only as broad as the Mona Lisa's smile" and criticizing Affleck's portrayal of Jim.[17] Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly awarded the film a grade of C minus, writing that director Steve Buscemi "is stymied here by the inertia of his material".[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Sundance Kid, New York, January 11, 2007. Accessed October 28, 2008.
  2. ^ Bowen, Kit. 2005 Sundance Film Festival Winners, Hollywood.com, January 28, 2005. Accessed October 28, 2008.
  3. ^ Kennedy, Randy. The Edge in Indie Films? Women With Résumés, The New York Times, December 9, 2004. Accessed October 28, 2008.
  4. ^ Calhoun, John. Shooting Lonesome Jim in Rural Indiana, American Cinematographer, April 1, 2006. Accessed October 28, 2008.
  5. ^ Buscemi, Steve. Directing, MovieMaker, March 19, 2006. Accessed October 28, 2008.
  6. ^ Mackie, Rob. DVD review: Lonesome Jim, The Guardian, September 5, 2008. Accessed October 28, 2008.
  7. ^ a b In Good Company: "Lonesome Jim" Premieres at Sundance, Screen, February 3, 2005. Accessed October 28, 2008.
  8. ^ Wood, Jennifer. The Look of Lonesome Jim, MovieMaker, February 3, 2007. Accessed October 28, 2008.
  9. ^ Lonesome Jim, Box Office Mojo. Accessed October 28, 2008.
  10. ^ Lonesome Jim, Rotten Tomatoes. Accessed October 28, 2008.
  11. ^ Lonesome Jim, Metacritic. Accessed October 28, 2008.
  12. ^ Ebert, Roger. Lonesome Jim, Chicago Sun-Times, March 31, 2006. Accessed October 28, 2008.
  13. ^ Ebert & Roeper Thumbs Summary 2006. Accessed October 29, 2008.
  14. ^ Turner, Matthew. Lonesome Jim, ViewLondon.co.uk, October 4, 2008. Accessed October 28, 2008.
  15. ^ Travers, Peter. Lonesome Jim, Rolling Stone, March 21, 2006. Accessed October 28, 2008.
  16. ^ Review: Lonesome Jim, Cinematical.com, March 24, 2006. Accessed October 28, 2008.
  17. ^ Holden, Stephen. 'Lonesome Jim' Discovers You Can Go Home Again (Hat in Hand), The New York Times, March 24, 2006. Accessed October 28, 2008.
  18. ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa. Lonesome Jim, Entertainment Weekly, March 22, 2006. Accessed October 28, 2008.

External links[edit]