A Franco-American cross-over film, Jimmy P. – Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian, stars Benicio del Toro (of Steven Sodebergh’s Che amongst others) and French actor/director Mathieu Amalric.
Both the actors are darlings at Cannes, and despite the torrential rain here, they drew a big crowd outside the Festival Palace when they walked up the red carpet on Saturday evening.
British actress Gina Mckee, who we saw in the political spoof In the Loop, plays Almaric’s English lover, Madeleine who provides a brief distraction from the main plot.
Del Toro and Amalric’s acting skills are put to the test in this movie. Del Toro plays a native American who, after an accident on the front in World War two in France where he was a sapper, suffers incapacitating headaches. He ends up in an army head hospital far from his home.
Amalric, like Del Toro, metamorphoses. He plays Georges Devereux, a slightly eccentric, anthropologist-turned – psychotherapist, who, according to Madeleine, is having a bit of trouble dealing with his own past as a Rumanian émigré.
Del Toro, more than convincing as Jimmy, says Desplechin’s script stood out among the many he considers.
“First you have to understand where the character, where he comes from. The history of the native American. There’s a big story there and it’s still unresolved. That’s fundamental to understand the character and the reason he’s in that situation."
"I also felt this script was so original. I read a lot of scripts. It was so original it just popped up, I don’t know how to explain it… it glowed in the dark.”
Desplechin uses the account of Jimmy Picard’s treatment to talk about racism and discrimination or xenophobia. His early cinema background as a cameraman shows through as he harnesses the light and angles to bring out the deepening relationship between the two men, which nonetheless keeps them at a certain distance from each other.
Arnaud Desplechin’s eighth feature film may be set some sixty years ago, but it’s still revelant today.