"Directed by Steve Buscemi": Four words that mean you're in for something special. Just check out Trees Lounge, Animal Factory and his Emmy-nominated episode of The Sopranos. What we cheer in Buscemi as an actor — his gift for locating the elusive details that define a life — is also there in his work as a director. Buscemi does not act in Lonesome Jim, but his sly humor and keen eye for nuance resonate in every frame. I can't recall having a better time at a movie about depression. Jim (hangdog master Casey Affleck) has returned to his family home in Indiana after failing to make it as a writer in New York. Mom (the superb Mary Kay Place) welcomes her baby back. Dad (Seymour Cassel) is far less pleased. Their older son, Tim (Kevin Corrigan), a divorced father of two, is also back in his old bedroom and working in the family business. "I'm a mess," Jim tells his brother, "but you're a fucking disaster." The remark drives Tim to suicide. He fails. So is Jim worth saving? Anika (Liv Tyler), the nurse who takes this morose premature-ejaculator to bed, gives it a shot. Working from an artfully autobiographical script by James C. Strouse, Buscemi refuses to take any character at face value. That includes Jim's drug-dealing uncle, Evil (a hilarious Mark Boone Jr.). Lonesome Jim is minimalist to the point of vapor, but Buscemi — a poet of the maladjusted — makes sure this deadpan delight finds its wily way into your heart. No tricks. No tears. But, damn, it gets you good.
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