Craig Roberts makes an impressive directorial debut with JUST JIM
After his breakout performance in Richard Ayoade’s SUBMARINE, Craig Roberts makes his directorial debut as the director, writer and star of JUST JIM, a surreal psychological black comedy set in a leafy village in 90’s Rural Wales.
Jim (Craig Roberts) is an awkward and depressed teenager, failing at life. He believes his parents favour his sister, who is off to University, and this does seems to be the case as to Jim’s horror they mistake his 17th birthday for his 16th, displaying their thoughtless faux pas with a banner at his absentee party solidifying his social outcast status.
The story is told almost entirely from the viewpoint of Jim so we get to see his fantasy moments and dream like sequences throughout the film and this ultimately lends to the mental fragmentation of the character. Roberts’s portrayal of Jim as rather brash and at times downright rude was a brave choice as I struggled to sympathise at first, until he shows his softer side when heartbroken over his dog.
Emile Hirsh (TAKING WOODSTOCK, INTO THE WILD) plays Dean, a rebel with a cause albeit it a dark and dastardly one! Dean is charismatic, mysterious and worldly, I don’t think the name was accidental as he heavily channels 1950’s icon James Dean in character and costume. As the film progresses we see the unstable side of Dean starts to reveal itself, his graphically violent warning to Jim’s one time friend to stay away from Michelle was chilling, Hirsh is electric in this role.
The editing is a little rough around the edges so makes the film feel a little fragmented in places and the cinematography needs improvement but considering the film was made with a budget of £300,000, I think it can be forgiven this.
JUST JIM is a dark film with steady humour throughout. A real achievement for Roberts and for British film-making. I’ll be watching his career closely in the future!
JUST JIM was released in UK cinemas on 25 September 2015