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USA, 2001 (MIFF 2002, International Panorama)

Director: Frank Whaley

Jimmy is the kind of schmuck who might have stepped off a Coen Brothers set: disillusioned and resentful of his mortal coil. He works as a grocery store clerk alongside stoner co-worker Ray (a lively performance by Ethan Hawke, see Tape, also in the Festival), stealing cases of beer to compensate for his emotional emptiness. Jimmy returns home to his neglected wife, invalid grandmother and infant child. Following numerous vapid dreams, his latest is standup comedy. His material is at once lame and confessional about his blunted existence, slowly growing darker and aggressive. The hard truth for Jimmy - which makes for a highly compelling script - is that ultimately he doesn't have what it takes.

Freed from the trappings of the 'misunderstood genius' genre, actor-director Frank Whaley has injected deep fascination in his subject. In the title role, Whaley - a face you'll know from Pulp Fiction, JFK, Hoffa and The Doors - is impressive as the downtrodden sod who yearns for both our sympathies and attention.

Frank Whaley (born in New York, 1963) studied theatre at Albany State University. A working actor in theatre, television and more than 30 films, he made his directing debut with Joe the King (1999), for which he also wrote the screenplay. The Jimmy Show is his second feature.

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