The directorial debut from Craig Roberts bears many similarities to Submarine, the coming-of-age dramedy by Richard Ayoade that bought Roberts acclaim as the main character, Oliver Tate. For a start, it is very Welsh. It’s also sprinkled with deadpan humour and small-town oddity throughout the script, which much like Submarine, revolves around a misfit teenager, Jim.
But here, rather than the girl-next-door type, it’s a psychopathic American heartthrob, new neighbour Dean (Emile Hirsch), who catches our lead’s eye. Following their late-night meeting, things take a turn for the surreal. We soon descend into thriller territory, spliced with elements of the film noir that Jim so adores. Though the lead up to all this feels a tad drawn out, Just Jim ultimately pulls off an unlikely feat – pairing both idiosyncratic styles and characters to great effect.
Richard Stoddard’s cinematography ices the cake with that timeless, semi-detached gloom that could be anywhere or anytime. If you’re expecting an Ayoade sequel, don’t. This, a debut overflowing with dark wit, style and honesty, is much better.
Craig Roberts, Just Jim, out on DVD, Soda Pictures.
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