Growing up in a small town in Wales, Jim (Craig Roberts) was always a bit of an outcast. He wasn’t necessarily outcasted by choice, but he also enjoyed his moments of solitude. He’s bullied by some of the people at his school and his parents are real concerned about him. Everything changes when a cool American named Dean (Emile Hirsch) moves in next door and decides that he’s going to help make Jim cool.
Just Jim is a very admirable first effort from Craig Roberts, a very young man who is creating his own vision and style quite effectively. The David Lynch influences can be found all throughout the film and that’s something that really does help this film. Roberts isn’t playing around with new territory here, but his unique style does add something to the conversation and makes for a fun, if not curious watch.Roberts also brings much of his own life experience into the mix, only adding to the amount of effort he’s putting into this ambitious first project.
Craig Roberts, as an actor, does bring a large amount of comedy in respect to how small he is. Playing off of the fact that he still looks like he’s 15, Roberts effectively slides into his old high school self and reacts just as he did the first time. He loves his computer games and doesn’t mind isolating himself, but we do see the effects on him, caused by the bullies. Roberts also brings more emotion here than comedy, reflecting on his choices and the unfortunate events which occurred with his so-called “friends”. His likability makes us root for him, but you’ll most often times end up empathizing with him.
The addition of Emile Hirsch as the “Bad-Boy American” is one of the film’s strongest points, as Hirsch plays the bit to perfection. With his hair slicked back, a cigarette in his mouth at all times, and a leather jacket, the amount of cool that his character exudes is unreal. He’s also not afraid to call it as he sees it and he may offend many people, but he won’t apologize. He’s forceful when he needs to be, but he’s more manipulative than anything. There’s some ulterior motive that he’s hiding and it comes across more clearly the more he interacts with Roberts.
Craig Roberts the writer/director has a great eye for landscapes and what he wants to emphasize with his lens. He filmed in his hometown in Wales and filmed in his old school and the film feels more authentic for it. The film reflects part of his life and his use of locations and where the character runs off to makes the film feel more authentic. His camera plays around with quick zooms and jump cuts, but also employs some wonderful sweeping motions, all taking the audience for a visual ride. When his camera lingers, he tells a story within the actors face and doesn’t rely on words to over-complicate the characters thoughts.
The film doesn’t run all that long, moving along fairly quickly at 84-minutes. Due to the films brisk pacing, some scenes and larger moments in the film do feel a bit rushed. Everything consequential happens too quickly and we don’t get to see enough about how Roberts’ character would have reacted. There are also some relationships in the film that aren’t fully fleshed out, which would have given the audience a better idea as to what had happened to cause any tension.
Just Jim plays out really well because of its Craig Roberts trifecta. He’s a very confident writer and director and acts accordingly given the progression of his film. You can find a lot of yourself within Jim and will begin to ask yourself questions about the lonely moments in your life. Who are you lying for, yourself or someone else? What does it mean to be cool? We often want to change how people view us so that we can fit in someplace and it’s then that we lose sight of ourselves. Roberts first film isn’t perfect, but he never lost sight of himself and neither did the film.
Just Jim Trailer