By Mark Adams
The issues in their characters’ background are touched on but never exploited, with Desplechin letting the gently developing relationship drive the story rather than any obvious dramatic devices.
Between them, Del Toro and Amalric could have reduced the film to a series of showy acting moments, but Desplechin seems to have been able to harness their considerable talents (for much of its time the film is a virtual two-hander, and could work just as well as a theatre production) to bring out the strength of this relatively simple story of a World War II veteran getting psychiatric help after the end of the war.
This demanding but highly absorbing two-hander showcases Benicio Del Toro and Mathieu Amalric at the top of their craft
By Scott Foundas
Sporting one of the more unusual literary sources ever adapted into a feature film, the pic draws its inspiration from “Reality and Dream,” a book-length case study by the ethnologist and psychoanalyst Georges Devereux (played by Amalric) about his treatment of one James Picard (Del Toro), a Blackfoot Indian whom Devereux encountered at Topeka’s famed Menninger Clinic in 1948. But as adapted by Desplechin, together with co-screenwriters Julie Peyr and Kent Jones, “Jimmy P.” constantly searches for—and finds—cinematic equivalents for Devereux’s clinical language.
By Deborah Young
In early scenes Del Toro devotes so much visible effort to acting the part that his performance is distracting, even off-putting. But as the film goes on, he becomes more natural in a complex role, leaving the viewer with the memory of a powerful and unusual mind, a man one would like to know. Amalric, who played a mental patient for Desplechin in Kings and Queen, is spectacularly likable in all his guises, except as the lover of a sophisticated married woman (Gina McKee) who comes out of nowhere and disappears in the same direction, leaving the audience to wonder what that was all about. Surely the screen time could have been put to better use sketching in some of the mysteries of this fascinating figure, a founder of ethno-anthropology.