James White (2015) Poster


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Engrossing and heartbreaking glimpse into an unfortunate life
alwayshungryy8 October 2015
James White (Christopher Abbott) is caught in an endless cycle of self-destruction. He has just lost his father and fears losing his ailing mother (Cynthia Nixon) who he has been taking care of for years. He spends his days drinking, sleeping around and lashing out at others, doing anything to avoid confronting his grief and emotions, which he keeps under the surface, bubbling and waiting to burst. Life has been unfair to him, and this behaviour that manifested sabotages any chance of career or personal growth. He might be using his mother's condition as an excuse not to step out of his comfort zone and try harder in life, which is reasonable to some extent, but he can't seem to change. In his prime, he is jobless and taking his mother's couch as a bed.

This narratively loose drama doesn't offer anything particularly new in giving us a glimpse into the struggles, both internal and external, faced by James. There is not much closure or emotional reward to be given. This is summed up perfectly in one of the very few scenes in which we see James surrendering to his emotions, crying while repeatedly yelling "I don't know what to do".

The best aspect of the film is the acting. Nixon gives an authentic, heartbreaking performance that's understated. Abbott, on the other hand, is given a character that requires patience and sensitivity to sympathize with. James internalizes many complex emotions throughout the film and what goes on in his mind is not always clear to the audience. It's a tricky act to balance but Abbott pulls it off. Their mother-son relationship is the only thing that's certain in their lives and is the core of the film.

The film could have very well ended during its most powerful and stirring scene with James and his mother in the toilet. She can't get up, so they sit and talk about what their ideal life would be like and the future they had hope for. They feel at peace as both of them stay in this moment, still and smiling. This is when the bleak reality of the film truly sets in, as we see these people, both kind and full of dreams and desires, trapped in an unfortunate life.
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Incredibly tough to watch. Visceral and haunting performances
Red_Identity26 March 2016
I just did not expect... that. Great respect to Josh Mond. I think he took on an incredibly heavy film that managed to feel incredibly visceral in its portrayal. I could physically feel it, its last 30 minutes probably being the most uncomfortable film-watching experience of any film from 2015. What makes it work so well are the performances. There's such an innate authenticity and raw power to the cast's work here. I've liked Christopher Abbott from what I've seen him in, most notably Girls. I never would have thought he was capable of what he did here though. Definitely one of the best performances of last year. Not a fun film to watch at all, but holding that as a criticism would be a complete disservice to everything the film does well.
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If You Want to be Sad While Witnessing Quality Film-Making, then this is the Movie For You
SquigglyCrunch30 May 2016
James White follows a twenty-something year old man who lives with his mother and, after the passing of his father, begins to struggle with the loss. During this time his mother's cancer returns and he tries to take care of her while balancing his own personal relationships and emotions.

To start off all the actors are great. Everyone was pretty genuine in their line delivery and even in the way they moved. They were all perfect, and their characters were great too. The main character and his girlfriend have great chemistry almost immediately, and everyone else is interesting and realistic, making it all the more shocking when something horrible happens. And that happens a lot. This movie can be very hard to watch at times, and not in a bad way. It's hard to watch because you can't stand to see such great characters go through such bad things, and when a movie can make you feel for the characters then it's definitely done something right

Surprisingly, this movie features a handful of lengthy shots. While some of them contain lots of dialogue, some of them also contain little to no dialogue and barely any movement. While it may not seem difficult or impressive, these actors had to stay in character sometimes for a full five minutes and just sit with each other and exchange a few words, maybe move around a little. And all of it was very natural. It's subtle things like this that make this movie stand out from other depressing family dramas.

At points, however, this movie could be a little slow. There isn't a lot of music, and while that isn't necessarily a bad thing it can make it difficult to keep your attention focused when the only thing emitting from the television is a soundless scene of someone barely moving. It generally didn't take away from the movie, it actually added to it a little, but it was still there. Also, the outcome of the movie was a little on the predictable side, but it didn't distract too much from how incredibly well-made the movie is.

Overall James White is just fantastic. It's filled with great characters, great actors, and some horribly good realism. While it can be a little slow and a little predictable, it doesn't take away from the movie enough to make it even remotely close to being a displeasure to watch. In the end I'd certainly recommend this movie.
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I can't say it was enjoyable, but I appreciated it and is definitely worth watching.
jmanger8514 December 2015
I watched this gem of an indie film, James White, the other night. From the plot summary and reading other critic reviews, I knew what I was getting into. It was going to be a heart wrenching, realistic portrayal of one young man's downward spiral in experiencing death and dying of his closest loved ones.

James White is a mid-twenty-something New Yorker with a taste for alcohol, drugs, and women. In the wake of his absent father's death, James is distraught and self-medicating to deal with his feelings of pain and anger. With no one to talk to, he is alone in figuring out how to navigate some challenging life situations. As a 30-year-old single male, I could relate to James White.

The core of this movie was between James White and his mother dying of cancer. The performances from the film's two leads are, and some scenes are just a punch in the gut. All James's mother wants is for his son to grow up and know he will be able to take care of himself. Like many young adults, growing up and finding yourself is not always that easy, and James White shows you how difficult it can b. I enjoyed the ending, but a lot of watchers will not.

Without giving away any more of this well written, directed and acted film, I will say watch it! If you are a fan of indie dramas, then you will thoroughly appreciate this one.
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Powerhouse performances.
Sergeant_Tibbs26 November 2015
Christopher Abbott and Cynthia Nixon have found fine homes on HBO screens. Abbott is perhaps mostly known for his role on Girls while Nixon will forever be a Sex in the City girl. Here in James White, they deliver perhaps their finest performances of their careers thus far. The film thrives off the compassion in their relationship and the way it tests James' love for his mother Gail, but unfortunately to the expense of what lies on the sidelines. There's an endearing affection between James and his best friend Nick, but it offers little backstory or arc, simply the type of wishful thinking support considering the situations. The film also lends an entire chapter to James growing close with a girl who becomes his girlfriend, but as soon as the film retreats back home to tend to Gail she's completely tossed aside as another periphery character.

That is part of the point though, taking care of her is all consuming and it contrasts the conditions of romantic love with the unconditional family love. Despite little dips into history, the film grew on me as it went on with Abbott impressing at every turn, subverting the brutish James to an empathetic son. Nixon does feel like she's trying too hard at first, but once the film submits to her and she succumbs to the worst of her cancer, she's as good as Abbott. Shot by the same cinematography as Son of Saul, New York is no less of a compelling setting than Auschwitz, focusing on intimacy with the characters, but again it's heart by choppy editing. The jump cuts give it a difficult rhythm to crack. It's limited and intense, and I certainly would've like a little more bittersweet hints at a future to really send the film home, but as an acting showcase James White is a powerhouse.

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If this doesn't move you, you don't have a pulse.
wildsparrow1624 March 2016
Who is Christopher Abbott and will someone give the boy an Oscar? The acting by Nixon and Abbott are so real it's like being in the room with them.

This movie is for anyone who has been in a caregiving position for a loved one, and knows the anger, frustration, pain, depression, anxiety and fear that comes with it. It's for anyone who has been on the receiving end, who has battled cancer or otherwise felt their death to be imminent. It's for anyone who has had friends or relatives described above.

FINAlLY - a realistic portrayal of a cancer battle and the struggles of those who love them deepest.

But overall, this is about overcoming life's greatest hardship - fear of losing the person you love more than anyone in the world. Oh - and the poor kid has no job, no help and has just lost his Dad, by the way. Yes, let's see how much more someone can take before they crack - although not all will crack. Some will go on and be okay. And nothing can hurt you after that kind of pain.
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Not exactly White on! But Abbott and Nixon shined!
meeza8 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
"James White" is the story of the New England Patriots' running back struggle to make the team, and insert himself as a 3rd Down specialist. Just kidding! And only die-hard football fans will get that one. "James White" is actually a mediocre somber film about a mother dying from cancer and her party-festive son's struggle to care for her. Writer- Director Josh Mond sure insert some "Mond"ay blues in this film showing the deterioration of a middle-aged woman dying from cancer, and her party-loving son's difficulty dealing with it. The Mond issue here is that there is not much more to this. The film lacked a layered screenplay, and creative direction. However, I must state that the acting was superb! Christopher Abbott dazzled as the title character, and Cynthia Nixon was outstanding as James' dying mother Gail. So I would not subject "James White" to the bench, but I would not exactly touch down with "James White". *** Average
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Lost between abandoned and over-needed
katmckee13 February 2019
Warning: Spoilers
James White, in his mid 20s. A guy in NY in pain over absent dad's death and meeting the Dad's new wife for the first time at the wake. He was excluded from the Dad's life; didn't know he had remarried! this angered him... he had a lot of anger inside. The dad had left when he was 5 or 6. He and his mom did not speak about the Dad. He carried abandonment, pain, anger around with him. He had a close friend and they went to bars, got in fights, and picked up dates together. In one scene they rented a hotel room with 2 beds and slept with the 2 people they met the night before. He was close to his mother. She was fun and accepting and she let his friends hang around and they got to know her too. But he was wanting space. He wanted a trip away in Mexico and he went and enjoyed his own space. The mom helped him go on that trip. But she wanted him to get a job, and she wanted him to write. He wanted to party with drinking and drugs. He was confused and in pain. We see how hard the mother pulled on him to be there for her. She seemed to ask a bit too much of him, expecting him to serve her and be there when she needed him. He felt smothered. He struggled with wounds around his absent dad and feeling smothered by Mom. So a detached father and overly attached mother made for a confused son that couldn't find his own ground and what he actually wants. When she starts the process of dying, he puts all his energy into being with her and puts his whole life aside. He isn't connecting to his own flow of life, but staying lost in his mother's flow, as she is needing him so much in her process of dying... and he really shows up for her, being an adult in that role for her... And when she is gone, he is not sure what to do now. She was his main reason for living... that codependence did not teach him what he could create for himself. So he is left with that empty space between feeling abandoned by Dad and being so needed by Mom and both are gone now. Where does he fit in that and how does he discover himself in the huge space he has left with no rails or guides?
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Slow, but deeply personal.
freelancedancepants1 February 2019
James White follows it's title character, an avoidant and immature 20 something, through a period of grief and growth over his dying mother. James is lazy and emotionally closed off, opting for parties and drugs when the going gets tough. While James might normally be an unlikable character, it's hard not to relate to his fear of facing the despair that is waiting for him in the real world.

This movie is definitely a slow burn, but by it's ending sequence it sears quite the scar. James is clearly very close to his mom, and seems to be the only decent influence in his life anymore. His friends might be marginally more stable than himself, but it's clear that his relationship with his mother is the last good thing he's got going. When James is finally confronted with the responsibility of caring for her full time, the performances are top notch and had me weeping mournful, as all of his feelings are finally pulled to the surface.

The only things that hold this movie back for me are mostly issues of presentation, and I am very certain that a lot of people will be off put by the pacing. A lot of time is spent establishing the character, and it takes a while for anything notable to happen. When it finally strikes though, you are gonna have a harder movie cry than you've had in a long time.
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Loved it!
allgirlde24 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I went out and seen a great movie tonight called James White.

James White (Christopher Abbott) is a asshat who lives off his mothers (Cynthia Dixon) couch.

His mother is battling cancer and during her remission his estranged father dies.

James has a narcissist personality and is on a drunken and drugged fueled downward spiral. He heads to Mexico with his friend Nick (Scott "Kid Cudi" Mescudi) to escape from from his responsibilities. While he seems to be in a perpetual fog as a means of escaping his harsh reality he meets a girl Jane (Makenzie Leigh). Just as he starts to relax his mothers cancer returns and he receives that dreaded call. He returns home and has to put all of the emotionally irresponsible crap behind him and take care of her.

James is a bitchboy who does his best but with two worlds colliding his anger and frustration over how to take care of his mother whom he loves more than anything makes him increasingly lost.

The actors rolls are on fleek.

Nixon with her portrayal of a cancer patient throwing up, collapsing, losing her memory, wandering aimlessly, the bathroom scene and agony of facing death is definitely award winning. Having seen someone die from cancer and living with it I must say Nixion portrayal of this is awesome.

Abbott's roll shows multi sides of expressions of grieving which makes for a difficult viewing. The heart break and devastation of both watching someone you love die and trying to work through living with the pain is how it ends at the crossroad of choices and again definitely award winning.
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Complicated but Moving
jamieleeackerman16 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
"James White" was an incredible film. A very moving story about a young man finding his place in this world. While he is a bit of a mess being unemployed, partying, and lots of booze, he faces the lost of his father who was never really a great dad to him in the first place. His mother, played by Cynthia Nixon (who also plays one of my favorite characters, Miranda from "Sex and the City") raised him but sadly is dying of cancer. Her tragic death is graphic but heartbreaking. Such an outstanding cast and film with great performances from Cynthia Nixon and Christopher Abbott. It is so great to see such a wonderful Indie film and it deserves much success.
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good performances
SnoopyStyle10 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
James White (Christopher Abbott) is an aimless young New Yorker who drinks and parties with his best friend Nick. His estranged father had recently passed away. He's been living with and taking care of his sick mother Gail (Cynthia Nixon) for the last few years. James goes on a Mexican vacation with Nick where he hooks up with high schooler Jayne. He's struggling to get a writing job but he's struggling with darker demons. His mother is dying from cancer and hospice care forbids hospitalization.

Honestly, the movie starts out slow for me. James isn't likable. He's self-destructive and a douche. As the movie develops, he shows more of his struggles and his inner demons. His manic effort in the hospital is heart-breaking. Abbott delivers a good performance and Nixon does some dying acting. These are intriguing characters and a compelling relationship. The movie does miss a definitive death scene although he does tell her to let go.
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Realistic and painful film dealing with growing up and loss
t-dooley-69-38691618 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
James White is presented as a twenty something young man with leanings towards hedonism and is currently living on his mothers couch whilst 'looking after her' – this is along with the news that his father has died. The film tracks his life over a number of months and it soon becomes clear that his mother is seriously unwell and needs him to step up to the plate.

What this is though is a reflection of his journey and how he deals with it. His hedonism is shown as someone who wants to go out and have a good time – sometimes too much of a good thing turns bad and that is also the case here. It is all parts of life's rich tapestry. Christopher Abbot as White ('A Most Violent Year') carries the role perfectly; he has smouldering good looks that are underplayed by his apparent lack of panache. This leads to an enigmatic and at times powerfully realistic performance.

Anyone who has had to deal with great personal loss will find it easy to empathise here and also the understanding that it affects us all differently and at different times. That raw essence of feeling and emotion is captured extremely well here. Having said all of the above this is still a hard film to watch in places – and that is a good thing in many respects. If you like your films to be more honest and deal with things too often 'glossed over' then you may very well find something to like here.
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First time writer/director's portrait of sociopath son helping dying mother proves both compelling and somewhat underdeveloped
Turfseer23 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
First-time writer-director Josh Mond has fashioned a cinema-verité style drama based on his own experiences of losing his mother to cancer. During a recent Q&A, I learned that he bonded with noted actress Cynthia Nixon who plays the mother of the title character James White, and who also lost her own mother to cancer.

What I liked about Mond's protagonist James White, is that he's no sad sack—he's a character that basically likes himself despite tussling with a few demons deep down inside. One critic described James White as an "antisocial delinquent." Others might refer to him as a "Ne'er do well" but I think "sociopath" is a more appropriate moniker.

I've met a few people like James White in my life and I'm struck by their narcissism, aggressiveness and almost complete lack of a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience. Still, as we see in Mond's somewhat compelling portrait, James has an honorable side too, manifested in his devotion to his mother, who leans on him for support in her last dying days.

When we first meet James, his father (who left the family years ago), has just died and his mother is holding Shivah, the traditional Jewish mourning period, for the family of the father's second wife at her apartment. James appears disheveled after a night of carousing at a nightclub and inappropriately throws everyone out after taking offense at his non-relatives watching a video of his father's wedding to the second wife.

Soon afterward, to make matters worse, Nick, a friend of his, gets into a fight at a bar and James also joins in and almost provokes a complete free for all. James promises his mother Gail that he'll look for a job but he needs to take a break first, so he goes down to Mexico with Nick, who recently obtained a job as a clown at a resort.

You might wonder how a guy with no prospects like James can so easily find a girlfriend but he has no troubles picking up a woman who he meets down in Mexico, employing a series of glib and subtle pick-up lines. It's a sad commentary that women often are attracted to "bad boys," all the while ignoring the obvious signs that the guy they've become interested in, has little moral conscience.

At the midpoint, James suddenly gets a call from his mother that she's experienced a relapse with her cancer, which is now Stage 4. Dutifully, James returns back to New York City where he becomes more unhinged due to his mother's rapid decline and it appears that he's now taking some kind of drugs (he almost gets into another fight, this time with Nick, and accidentally cuts himself).

James is unable to fool Ben, a family friend, who interviews him for a job as a writer. James comes to the interview again disheveled and hands in his poetry, scribbled on loose leaf pages, as a writing sample. Ben tells James that he can come back and interview again, if and when he gets himself together. Nonetheless, James tells his mother that he got the job.

The rest of the film focuses on James' noble effort to assist and comfort his mother as she succumbs to the ravages of cancer. Despite James' unhealthy co-dependent relationship with his mother, his actions reflect a positive side that we haven't seen earlier. In this respect, we find that James attains a measure of redemption in the good deeds he performs for his mother. Mond's unflinching portrait of a cancer victim (as well as Nixon's startling performance) is quite commendable as there's no sugar coating of this terrible disease.

Christopher Abbott's performance is also quite convincing. Nonetheless, Mond's script feels truncated and the denouement, abrupt. I wanted to see what happens to James White—how he turns out. Despite the underdeveloped nature of Mond's story, he's a talent to watch and I'm convinced there are good things to come with future offerings.
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A very dark movie, definitely worth a watch
WLSleddy28 October 2016
This movie revolves around the unfortunate events that continuously plague James White (Christopher Abott) in this harrowing spiral into addiction and utter darkness.

This movie is extremely character driven, relying heavily on the actors performances. The acting was exactly where it needed to be, adding a sense of realism, giving this movie a very uncomfortable feel. Christopher Abott plays the role perfectly, in this breakout performance. Cynthia Nixon also gives a memorable performance as a cancer-stricken mother of James.

It is top-quality filmmaking, giving you a glimpse into life in it's most authentic form. It makes you feel different emotions, a sense of what it is to be. It has a gloomy feel throughout which gives the perfect vibe to the subject matter of the movie.

Overall it is a film that boasts strong performances from all involved. It is a very dark movie that is definitely deserving of it's Sundance praise.
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Christopher Abbott Shines
injury-6544716 September 2020
Exceptional acting here, however the story itself doesn't offer much originality and relationships aren't explored to the extent that I would have liked. I wish we got to see higher highs and lower lows from the central character. Enjoyable, but perhaps forgettable.
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Stellar acting by Christopher Abbot in this film
twomblywill30 April 2020
I have seen Christopher Abbot in quite a few things. Not many people seem to talk about him or even know who he is when I mention a movie he was in. This movie is very sad but I am happy I watched it. I had a grandfather pass away from cancer so watching the lead character go through that was pretty hard but nonetheless tremendous performances by everyone. I have to say that the scene at the end of the film in the bathroom has a nice one take of sorts of some of the most visceral acting I have seen in a while. I was convinced I was watching an emotional conversation between mother and son. I did not think for a second that I was watching a film. 9/10. The only reason I gave it a 9 is because I thought the film was a little short and ended a little abruptly but from my understanding it was to leave your interpretation for what the lead character would become after what happened in the end.
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A Superb Film
aydendunmire30 March 2019
James White is one of my favorite films. The whole thing is such an emotional roller coaster with powerful gut punches of emotion. There is such genius behind this film it feels criminal how underrated this movie is. Everyone, from the actors to the directors to the editors, gave 1000%, and I couldn't recommend a film more.
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mantha-7886911 October 2018
All dialogue, a decent, unique story line, and a little drawn out.
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invisibleunicornninja15 December 2018
I didn't even get 20 minutes into this movie its so boring.
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vbemail-social11 June 2018
This is a portrayal of typical Americans who think the world owes them their misfortunes who have no care for other people. Why is it a big deal to care for your ailing family? That's what's family is for, to care for each other, it doesn't need to be shown on big screen making it look like the caretaker is a hero.

Don't waste your money. Bad movie, lame actors.
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Raw, Intense, Dark - 10 Stars
redproton886 January 2019
This is not an easy film to watch, but it is well worth it. I realize this film especially resonated with me because I faced similar circumstances caring for my mom. That said, I found the experiences and performances to be raw and honest. Abbott and Nixon were both outstanding. If you like stellar performances and films that aren't afraid to take on very difficult subject matter then I highly recommend this film.
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