The latest directorial effort (see also, "Trees Lounge") from actor Steve Buscemi, "Lonesome Jim" is a small town tale (yes, there's been plenty of them, but this is a worthwhile picture), which manages to bring back Liv Tyler - a charming actress who's seen not often enough in movies. As the film opens, Jim (Casey Affleck) is returning home to his small Indiana town after a failed writing attempt in New York City.
The sleepy hometown doesn't offer much. Jim has been away from his parents (played by the great Mary Kay Place and Seymour Cassel) for so long that they seem as if they're old friends instead of still being in the parental role. His other brother, Tim (Kevin Corrigan), has never left and spends part of his time coaching a kids' basketball team that doesn't exactly show much skills on the court. His parents have him work at their business, where he finds out his uncle (Mark Boone Junior) is using the company to sell drugs.
Sure enough, Jim meets a single mother and nurse, Anika (Liv Tyler), and it's not long before the two are starting to fall for one another. While this certainly isn't a movie that hasn't been done before, it's thanks to fine performances from Affleck and Tyler that the movie rises a bit above the rest of its kind. Affleck walks the line well with his performance, never becoming as much of a downer as the character could be. Tyler provides a warm, bright performance and has a nice, low-key chemistry with Affleck. Supporting efforts are also solid, as well - Corrigan (who was great in "Grounded For Life") provides the occasional comedic relief.
Done on a microbudget, the picture makes good use of the small town its set in, but (and maybe it's just this DVD presentation), the digital video cinematography is inconsistent - while some scenes look perfectly fine, others look distractingly noisy. Overall, this is an enjoyable dramedy that boasts fine performances and builds to a sweet, hopeful ending.
VIDEO: "Lonesome Jim" is presented by Genius Products/IFC in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation is very inconsistent, with some scenes looking fine and others (mainly some interiors) looking severely noisy to the point of distraction. I didn't see the picture theatrically, but I'm guessing this was likely due to the digital video filming. Still, it takes away from the scenes. Some minor edge enhancement and a couple of specks on the print are also noticed. Sharpness and detail varied throughout the movie, with some scenes looking soft and others just bordering on looking crisp. Colors remained natural and generally looked fine, aside from a few moments where they appeared slightly smeary.
SOUND: "Lonesome Jim" is presented with a stereo soundtrack. The audio fared better than the video, as dialogue remained crisp and clear throughout.
EXTRAS: writer James C. Strouse and director Steve Buscemi offer an insightful and informative audio commentary for the film, going into good detail about the story, characters, and low-budget production. Additionally, a 6-minute promotional featurette is also included.
Final Thoughts: "Lonesome Jim" isn't original, but it's an enjoyable small town dramedy, with fine performances from its solid cast. The DVD provides so-so image quality, fine audio and a couple of nice extras. Rent it.