Jimmy P. (2013)

ARNAUD DESPLECHIN

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB

Original title:  Jimmy P.:  Psychotherapy Of a Plains Indian

France/USA, 2013, , , , , , , , .  Screenplay by Arnaud Desplechin, .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

A World War II veteran (Benicio Del Toro) is unable to get through a day without incapacitating headaches that actually cause him to lose his vision, following a cranial injury sustained towards the end of the war.  His sister takes him from their ranch to an army hospital where they run tests and find that there is absolutely nothing physically wrong with him.  Del Toro’s Jimmy Procter is a Native American of a Blackfoot tribe, so they decide to pull in an academic () who has written a book on Mojave culture, thinking that his anthropological background in a related subject will help get to the bottom of Del Toro’s stress.  Not actually a doctor but working up to becoming an analyst, Amalric’s knowledge of native custom is helpful when interpreting his patient’s personal life and past woes, but for the most part the journey they go on is one marked mainly by the analyst’s unbending sympathy and the subject’s perpetual willingness to solve his problems.  In fact, so smooth is this relationship that this kind and pleasant film lacks a fair amount of conflict as a result.  Arnaud Desplechin’s foray into American genre filmmaking doesn’t have the zing of audacity that his French masterpieces benefit so greatly from, and he films Native culture like it comes from another very beautiful planet (it’s more inspired by John Ford movies than reality), placing mentions of America’s crimes against its indigenous people into dialogue but removing it completely from any of the actual interactions between characters. Other than a periodically insensitive nurse, there is not enough emphasis placed on the irony of medical experts thinking an Indian needs a different kind of psychotherapy than everyone else.  The acting is superb and the characterizations are very intelligent; it’s hard to know exactly what is doing in the middle of all of this other than providing feminine relief, but she too is far too pleasant to regret her presence.  The end result is not overwhelming but it is properly satisfying.

Cannes Film Festival:  In Competition

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