Just Jim is the directorial debut from Craig Roberts (Submarine), who also writes and stars in this surreal and very dark comedy set in a small village in Wales.
Roberts stars as Jim, a slight and awkward teenager whom has recently lost his best friend to the cool gang and so proceeds to spend most of his time alone or with his dog, (until it runs away).
That is until Dean, played brilliantly by Emile Hirsch, moves in next-door and quickly works to make Jim cool or at least “man up and stop being a little bitch.”
Dean orchestrates some situations in Jim’s life to improve his situation: he fixes the school run to ensure a win for Jim by threatening his classmates with a gun, bags a date for Jim with Jackie and gets his parents out of the house so Jim can throw a successful teen party.
Roberts plays Jim with a quirky sense of teenage awkwardness, which works well in contrast to Hirsch’s effortlessly cool Dean, whose character is reminiscent of James Dean. For my money this is one of Hirsch’s strongest performances. As his character worms his way into Jim’s life and manages to win over his parents so they begin to like him more than their own son; a sense of unease befalls the film.
Themes of psychosis emerge as you begin to question if Dean is even real or just a figment of Jim’s imagination? Or maybe just some of his supposed actions are all in Jim’s paranoid mind.
In the third act, Just Jim takes a turn into the unexpected and downright weird and this sudden change in direction feels slightly at odds with the rest of the film. Nonetheless I think this is a strong first feature from the young Roberts and although heavily influenced by the likes of Lynch, Hitchcock and Ayoade, he manages to develop his own voice. I look forward to whatever’s next.
Just Jim is out in cinemas now.