Welsh actor Craig Roberts (Submarine, Comes a Bright Day, Bad Neighbours) makes a very strong directorial debut in Just Jim, a film in which he also writes and stars in. The black comedy follows un-cool Welsh teenager Jim, played by Roberts, leading a seemingly boring teenage life who longs to catch his crush’s attention and become popular in school. This is where Emile Hirsch (Lords of Dogtown, The Girl Next Door, Into the Wild) joins the party playing Dean, Jim’s new, edgy, American neighbour who has moved to Wales. Why Wales, you may ask? He explains the reason to Jim in the film – he was simply looking for a place where “the people looked miserable but sound happy.”
Jim’s transition from being Mr Nobody to Maesycwmmer’s own badass is amusing and sometimes weird, but it is Roberts’ innovative imagination which keeps the audience focused on not only the unusual plot but also every creative aspect of the film. With a £300,000 movie budget, Roberts successfully creates his opera prima with a very loveable main character who is quirky, witty and awkward – my favourite trio. And come on, what cinephile doesn’t love Emile Hirsch? This duo is the unlikeliest of partners, but their journey on Jim’s transition (and downfall) is amusing.
From the sharp cuts and the edgy transitions to the suave cigarette inhalations and Emile Hirsch, damn this film is so indie! But in all fairness, Just Jim is highly entertaining and Roberts’ dry humour will keep you chuckling all the way to the very end. Roberts definitely shows good promise to a new generation of British directors and a reminder that Wales is a great location to shoot films.
Classified by Roberts himself as a ‘coming-of-age noir’ don’t miss Just Jim.