Dispatch from Cannes: The Movies that Left Audiences Confused

05/22/2013 8:55 AM |

Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian

Jimmy P: The Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian
Cerebral French director Arnaud Desplechin’s latest film features Benicio del Toro as the eponymous Jimmy, a WWII vet who lives on his sister’s ranch in 1948. When crippling headaches drive him to seek medical attention at the veterans’ Winter Hospital in Topeka, Kansas, and the staff there is unable to help, Dr. Georges Devereux (played by the inimitable Mathieu Amalric)—an unlicensed psychoanalyst with an intense interest in American Indian culture—is called in from Brooklyn. Jewish Romanian by birth and French by affectation, Devereux knows how it feels to be an outsider, and his sympathy for Jimmy’s struggle as an Indian in post-war America is vital to his treatment.

Based on a book by the real Dr. Devereux, Jimmy P is a rare drama about a non-sexual relationship between “two men of good will,” as Devereux says in the film, unadorned by fight scenes or romantic intrigue. The film features a standout performance from Del Toro, who ably renders Jimmy’s halting way of speaking and the protean trauma from which he suffers. Amalric manages to pull off the accent of a Romanian speaking English with quasi-French intonations, and his chemistry with Del Toro does much to sustain the film, which is dialogue-heavy. The movie received mixed reviews from audience members, who nonetheless appreciated the actors’ performances.