Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian

Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian

***

Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Arnaud Desplechin’s second film in English after the coming of age tale Esther Kahn in 2000, provides a showcase for the intense and cerebral acting talents of Bernicio del Toro and Mathieu Amalric.

Based on a true story (from the accounts of Georges Devereux in his book Reality And Dream: Psychotherapy Of A Plains Indian) it tells of Picard (Del Toro), a tormented Blackfoot Native American who, after returning from the Second World War, starts to develop symptoms of a mysterious illness causing temporary blindness, hearing loss and painful blackouts. Picard received serious head wounds in the conflict, yet despite investigations, his brain activity appears normal.

Copy picture

At first, he is mistakenly diagnosed with schizophrenia. He travels with his concerned sister (Michelle Thrush) to a hospital in Kansas where he meets psychoanalyst Georges Devereux (Amalric).

Devereux, a maverick Hungarian-French anthropologist, psychoanalyst and specialist in Native American culture, seems the ideal candidate to reach to the root of his problems.

Their journey marks a personal and professional relationship of mutual respect. Desplechin charts the way empathy develops between the two of them over a series of encounters closely recorded by Devereux in his case notes.

Del Toro and Amalric with contrasting acting styles make a magnetic duo yet the ponderous detail of the therapy occasionally bogs down the film, so much so that even the two actors cannot surmount it completely.

Despite this reservation, it remains an absorbing account of the minutiae of therapy and the observation that it is the man’s soul rather than his skull that requires attention.

Although Del Toro and Amalric (on his fifth outing with the director) hold central focus there are interesting characters on the periphery, including Gina McKee as Devereux’s visiting married mistress.

Howard Shore’s score has a tendency to swamp the images rather than working obtrusively in the background but Stéphane Fontaine's muted cnematography hits the perfect note.

Jimmy P, reviewed from this morning's media screening, has pride of place as tonight’s red carpet premiere (May 18) in the Palais des Festivals, likely to be a soggy affair as the heavens continue to deluge the Riviera with a seemingly unstoppable monsoon.

Reviewed on: 18 May 2013
Share this with others on...
A Native American man is admitted to hospital after fighting in France and forms an unexpected friendship with the doctor who treats him.

Director: Arnaud Desplechin

Writer: Sherman Alexie, Arnaud Desplechin, Kent Jones, Julie Peyr, based on the book by Georges Devereux

Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Mathieu Amalric, Gina McKee, Misty Upham

Year: 2013

Runtime: 117 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: France, US


Search database: