Saturday, 2 April 2016


Just look at where Josh Mond places his camera. The close-up never feels like an artistic choice - it's too plain, too direct - but you can bet it is in James White. This is fine dramatic filmmaking, simple and succinct, devoid of pretension yet not of power, and the announcement of one of the most intelligent new directors to emerge from the U.S. in some time. The structural and stylistic simplicity of James White is both to counter and to compliment the emotional complexity of its story of a young man caring for his dying mother, whose cancer has spread to her brain. It's harrowing without being exploitative, employing just the right amount of distance in its depiction of suffering to encourage an emotional connection whilst maintaining an observant objectivity. And, though unconcerned with realism, Mond is faithful throughout to honesty, and gets the crucial details right. And if James White isn't all about the suffering, it's never too far removed from it - instead, it's about all the suffering in all its forms, from the vices and the respites that distract us, for better or worse, to the responsibilities that shackle us to suffering, whether directly or indirectly. Mond's outlook is broad, but his insight sharply focused, reflected visually in those close-ups. How few close-ups have yielded such fantastic rewards as these, capturing the disarmingly thorough performances of actors Christopher Abbott and Cynthia Nixon. Mond places his camera upon them, and lets his film fly from there. It's an artistic choice par excellence.