Lonesome Jim

Director: Steve Buscemi
Screenwriters: James C. Strouse

Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival


The terrific opening shot of Lonesome Jim shows a man futilely chasing a bus. This sets the tone for a film that explores the tragicomic existence of a lost young man searching for his elusive path, and paints a vivid and honest portrait of life in the Midwest.

Jim begrudgingly returns from New York to his hometown in rural Indiana after failing to make it on his own. Once back he soon remembers why he left: a doting but overbearing mother, a distant father, and a depressed older brother. When his brother gets in a mysterious car accident, Jim must take on his brother's duties. Crippled by these obligations and his own anxieties, he trudges on. A glimmer of hope springs from his developing relationship with a beautiful nurse, and he slowly realizes that what separates life's winners from its losers are pretty ordinary things.

Lonesome Jim paints a thoughtful picture of working-class characters that is both humorous and sad, but it never betrays them with falseness. Steve Buscemi's perfect direction and Casey Affleck's phenomenal performance create a good-humored and finely observed portrait of a world brought to life by intelligent characterizations, engaging dialogue, and vivid supporting performances. A small story told with wit and an astute ear for the rich details of mundane life, Lonesome Jim resounds with truth.

— Trevor Groth

Screening Details

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