JIMMY P.: PSYCHOTHERAPY OF A PLAINS INDIAN (Arnaud Desplechin, 2013)
Film Society of Lincoln Center
Francesca Beale Theater, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
144 West 65th St. between Eighth Ave. & Broadway
Sunday, March 13, 7:30, and Wednesday, March 16, 4:00
Series runs March 11-17
Based on a true story documented in Georges Devereux’s 1951 book, Reality and Dream: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian, which features an introduction by Margaret Mead, Palme d’Or nominee Jimmy P. details the fascinating relationship between French-Hungarian ethnologist, anthropologist, and psychoanalyst Devereux (Mathieu Amalric) and Native American Blackfoot James Picard (Benicio del Toro). A WWII veteran living in Montana in 1948, Picard is taken to Topeka Winter Hospital after suffering from debilitating headaches and temporary blindness. When doctors Menninger (Larry Pine), Holt (Joseph Cross), Braatoy (Ricky Wayne), and Jokl (Elya Baskin) can’t find anything physically wrong with Picard — and wonder whether their unfamiliarity with Indians is limiting their understanding of his problems — Menninger calls in his colleague Devereux, a Freudian who is having difficulty getting a full-time position because of some of the unusual methods he employs. An excited Devereux immerses himself in Picard’s case, getting the direct, not-very-talkative Blackfoot to soon start opening up about his personal life, share his dreams, and discuss his military experiences. While the other doctors disagree with one another on what Devereux is doing, he and Jimmy develop a unique friendship, two very different men trying to find their place in life. Director Arnaud Desplechin wrote the screenplay (with Julie Peyr and Kent Jones) specifically for Amalric and del Toro, and it’s a terrific pairing, the former, who has previously starred in Desplechin’s A Christmas Tale, My Sex Life . . . or How I Got Into an Argument, and Kings and Queen, playing Devereux with a childlike, wide-eyed wonder, the latter portraying Jimmy with dark, brooding, penetrating eyes while also exuding an inner peace and poetry. The film slows down and gets off track when it strays from its main storyline, particularly when Devereux is visited by his married girlfriend, Madeleine (Gina McKee), and the reenacted dream sequences and past memories are hit or miss, some boasting a surreal beauty, others unnecessarily confusing, but when Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) and del Toro (Traffic) are on-screen together, Jimmy P. is mesmerizing. Jimmy P.: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian is screening March 13 & 16 in the Film Society of Lincoln Center series “Golden Days: The Films of Arnaud Desplechin,” a weeklong retrospective celebrating the March 18 release of Desplechin’s latest film, My Golden Days. Running March 11-17, the festival features such other films as The Sentinel, La vie des morts (which Desplechin will introduce on March 15), Kings and Queen (which will be followed by a Q&A with the director on March 17), and My Golden Days (with Desplechin on hand for Q&As after screenings on March 15 & 18).