James White (film)

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James White
James White (2015 movie poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJosh Mond
Written byJosh Mond
Produced byMax Born
Antonio Campos
Sean Durkin
Melody C. Roscher
F.A. Eric Schultz
StarringChristopher Abbott
Cynthia Nixon
Scott Mescudi
Ron Livingston
Makenzie Leigh
David Call
CinematographyMátyás Erdély
Edited byMatthew Hannam
Music byScott Mescudi
BorderLine Films
Relic Pictures
Distributed byThe Film Arcade
Release dates
Running time
85 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$101,368[1]

James White is a 2015 American drama film written and directed by Josh Mond. The film stars Christopher Abbott, Cynthia Nixon, Scott Mescudi, Ron Livingston, Makenzie Leigh and David Call. James, a twenty-something New Yorker, struggles to take control of his self-destructive behavior in the face of momentous family challenges.

James White premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival[2] where it won the NEXT Audience Award.[3] The film received a limited release on November 13, 2015, by The Film Arcade.[4]


James White is a 20-something unemployed man who lives with his divorced, terminally ill mother, Gail, in New York. He attends his father's funeral and meets his dad's new wife Karen at the service. His friend Nick, who works at a resort in Mexico, is in attendance. His father's friend, Ben, who works for a magazine, offers James his condolences and says maybe he could find him a job. Jim considers himself a writer. James tells his mom he really needs to get away and is going back with Nick to Mexico. Gail reminds him that she needs him. They each think they have taken care of the other the past four years.

James is partying in Mexico. He meets a young girl, Jayne, who also likes drugs and alcohol. Gail calls and tells James she needs her son to come home. Jayne's also from New York so she returns with him and he learns she is in high school. His mom is in the emergency room and he cannot get any care for her. Finally the doctor explains she needs hospice more than the hospital. He cannot understand why he does not know any of this. Gail knows what year it is and who the president is so she can go home. James, Nick and Jayne go to a party, drinking and dancing, James is overcome with his responsibilities. He gets a black eye in a barroom fight. They all wake up in a motel room the next morning.

James goes for a job interview with Ben. He takes a hand-written writing sample and smells of alcohol. Ben tells him that even though he is a family friend, there is no job available for him. At home he lies and tells his mom he got the job. Gail then has a spell where she cannot speak, which she believes to be just a brain freeze.

That night, Gail's temperature spikes to over 103 degrees. The doctor says to use wet towels and Tylenol. Gail throws up; James feels very distraught and helpless. He takes his mom to the bathroom, where she does her business, but loses her strength to return to bed. James tries to take her out of the experience with an experiment: he tells her to imagine they are in Paris with the wind and lights. James notes how he is married with two children. As grandmother, she takes the kids to all the museums and goes to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. Gail has a new husband, and the two of them are happy in this hypothetical. She returns to bed and her temperature drops back down to a stable 100 degrees.

Later, Gail and James have a heart-to-heart conversation. She says "I know we never talk about your father, but without him, there never would have been you." A month later, James tells her he loves her. Suddenly, James feels like he is having a panic attack. James returns and his mother has died. He closes her eyes. Nick comes in and as James leaves, he hands him some money. James then goes out on the street to smoke a cigarette, and stares blankly into space.



Josh Mond started writing the script to explore and understand his own feelings after losing his mother to cancer in 2011. During the writing of the script, Mond listened to the albums of Scott Mescudi, also known by his stage name Kid Cudi. They served as inspiration and motivation.[5] Kid Cudi went on to curate the film's music.[6][7]

In the middle of writing the script, Mond made an experimental short film precursor called ‘1009’ and had his close-friend, actor Christopher Abbott play the leading role. After the short, he decided that the part of James White was going to be written for Abbott.[8] Abbott based his performance on people he'd met, especially New Yorkers, Josh Mond and himself. Cynthia Nixon met up with Mond after reading the script. Mond and Nixon bonded over the fact that they both were from Manhattan with artsy parents. Unfortunately, both Nixon and Mond's mothers died of cancer, and Nixon herself is a cancer survivor.[9] She based her performance on Mond's mother and her own mother as well, even wearing her mother's jewelry in the film.[10] Actor-director Mark Webber, a friend of Mond's, sent his former colleague Mescudi the script. Mescudi joined the film and later scored the film.[11]

The film started shooting in New York City in December 2013.[12] The shooting lasted 18 days in New York and another 4 days were spent shooting in Mexico.[13] Borderline Films launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to finance the film's post-production editing costs and music rights.[14]


The film premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival,[15] where it won the NEXT Audience Award.[16] It also screened at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival[17] and at the 2015 AFI Fest where it won the American Independents Audience Award.[18] The film received a limited release on November 13, 2015 by distributors, The Film Arcade.[19][20]


James White has met with critical acclaim. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 92% approval rating based on reviews from 71 critics, with an average rating of 7.4 out of 10. The site's critical consensus states: "Led by powerfully complementary performances from Christopher Abbott and Cynthia Nixon, James White offers an affecting calling card for debuting writer-director Josh Mond."[21] On Metacritic the film has received a weighted average score of 83 out of 100 based on 25 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[22]

Awards and nominations[edit]

List of Accolades
Award / Film Festival Category Recipient(s) Result
American Independents / AFI Fest Audience Award Josh Mond Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Best Actor Christopher Abbott Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Cynthia Nixon Nominated
Chicago International Film Festival Emerging Artist Award Josh Mond Won
Emerging Artist Award Christopher Abbott Won
Deauville Film Festival Revelations Prize Josh Mond Won
Grand Special Prize Josh Mond Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actress Cynthia Nixon Nominated
Best Actor Christopher Abbott Nominated
Gotham Awards Best Actor Christopher Abbott Nominated
Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award Josh Mond Nominated
Hamburg Film Festival Young Talent Award Josh Mond Nominated
Hamptons International Film Festival Breakthrough Performer Christopher Abbott Won
Independent Spirit Awards Best First Feature Josh Mond, Sean Durkin, Antonio Campos, Max Born, Melody Roscher, Eric Schultz Nominated
Best Supporting Female Cynthia Nixon Nominated
Best Male Lead Christopher Abbott Nominated
Locarno International Film Festival Don Quixote Award - Special Mention Josh Mond Won
Junior Jury Award Josh Mond Nominated
Golden Leopard Josh Mond Nominated
National Board of Review Top 10 Independent Films Josh Mond Won
Online Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actress Cynthia Nixon Nominated
Sundance Film Festival Best of Next! Audience Award Josh Mond Won


  1. ^ "James White". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  2. ^ Scott Foundas (2015-01-23). "'James White' Review: Josh Mond's Raw Family Drama". Variety. Retrieved 2015-08-30.
  3. ^ "JAMES WHITE AUDIENCE AWARD: NEXT WINNER". Sundance Film Festival. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  4. ^ Lincoln, Ross A. "James White, Sundance Hit Gets November Theatrical Release". Deadline. Retrieved 2015-08-30.
  5. ^ Gale, Alex (25 January 2015). "Kid Cudi Dishes on His Deleted Male-on-Male Kissing Scenes in New Film 'James White'". Billboard. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  6. ^ "Check Out the Kickstarter for "James White," Starring Kid Cudi and Christopher Abbott". Complex Networks.
  7. ^ "Kid Cudi on Playing a Gay Man, Thirsting for Latinas, and Scoring 'James White'".
  8. ^ "Josh Mond on his debut feature James White". 12 October 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  9. ^ "Interview: Exploring Josh Mond's James White with Cynthia Nixon & Christopher Abbott". Comingsoon.net. 13 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  10. ^ Jacobs, Matt (22 January 2015). "Cynthia Nixon & Christopher Abbott On Their Powerful Mother-Son Drama 'James White'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  11. ^ Bernstein, Paula (13 November 2015). ""James White" is his directorial debut, but Josh Mond is far from a first-time filmmaker". IndieWire. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  12. ^ Sneider, Jeff (9 January 2014). "'Martha Marcy May Marlene' Producer Josh Mond Sets Directorial Debut 'James White' (Exclusive)". TheWrap. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  13. ^ Thompson, Anne (22 October 2015). "Gotham Nominee Christopher Abbott Breaks Out in 'James White'". IndieWire. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  14. ^ Trumbore, Dave (19 April 2014). "Indie Spotlight: JAMES WHITE, A New Feature from Borderline Films Starring Christopher Abbott, Cynthia Nixon, Ron Livingston, and Scott "Kid Cudi" Mescudi". Collider. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  15. ^ Scott Foundas (2015-01-23). "'James White' Review: Josh Mond's Raw Family Drama". Variety. Retrieved 2015-08-30.
  16. ^ "JAMES WHITE AUDIENCE AWARD: NEXT WINNER". Sundance Film Festival. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  17. ^ "James White". TIFF. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  18. ^ Donnelly, Matt (12 November 2015). "AFI Fest Jury, Audience Award Winners Include 'James White,' 'Mustang'". TheWrap. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  19. ^ Lincoln, Ross A. "James White, Sundance Hit Gets November Theatrical Release". Deadline. Retrieved 2015-08-30.
  20. ^ Vlessing, Etan (2015-04-20). "Sundance: The Film Arcade Takes U.S. Rights to 'James White'". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2015-08-30.
  21. ^ "James White (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
  22. ^ "James White". Metacritic. Retrieved December 4, 2015.

External links[edit]