×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sundance: Cynthia Nixon, Christopher Abbott on Love, Death and ‘James White’

James White” is the anti-“Terms of Endearment.”

In Hollywood movies, death is often a beatific experience. In “James White,” the edgy indie drama from Josh Mond, it’s filled with night sweats, moments of incontinence, hallucinations, and a few moments of grace.

“I wanted it to be as real as possible,” said Mond.

The film premieres at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it hopes to secure distribution.

Mond’s cast agrees that he achieved verisimilitude in his depiction of the titular hedonistic young man (Christopher Abbott) nursing his cancer-stricken mother (Cynthia Nixon).

“My mom died of cancer and good friends of mine died of AIDS,” said Nixon. “I feel it’s kind of like when you have children and they’re growing up. Every kid is different, but you recognize the stages and this script did a good job of depicting the stages of dying.”

Mond said he and Nixon bonded after she nailed one of her first scenes when her character is losing her battle with the illness.

“I said how ‘did you know? How did you know?'” said Mond. “I didn’t realize how universal that was.”

The film also doesn’t shy away from the exacerbating elements of healthcare — be it standing in line at a pharmacy to fill a prescription or calling in chits in order to land a hospital bed.

“It was important not to have it be just about the emotional journey, but about the physical demands of taking care of someone,” said Abbott. “Because no matter how much you love somebody, doing these things sucks. It’s not fun. I wanted there to be some frustration.”

“It hard to keep in the forefront of your mind that this person is not going to be here in a week or a month,” said Nixon. “You know it intellectually, but it’s hard to have that moment.”

James is a swirl of contradictions, alternating between overseeing hospice care for his mother with partying and joblessness. He’s not likable, but Abbott said he wasn’t worried about alienating audiences.

“If anything I wanted to make it more unlikable,” said Abbott. “I wanted to subvert the expectation of what a lead character can be in a movie.”

Mond said he wanted to explore James White’s contradictory nature, noting, “It was important to see the ugliness and to see the potential.”

Of course, films that refuse to spoon feed audiences and provide them with standard emotional uplift can be dicey propositions financially. To get “James White” past the finish line and to secure music rights for the picture, Mond turned to Kickstarter to raise additional funds.

“I’m happy we did it, because it brought awareness to the film,” said Mond. “It’s another tool for filmmakers to not be bogged down and make choices because of financing. It allows you to continue to make the movie you want to make.”

More Film

  • UGC Distribution Closes on Mariano Cohn’s

    Ventana Sur: UGC Distribution Closes Market Hit ‘4 x 4’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — UGC Distribution has beaten out all other suitors to clinch what had became by Friday morning the most anticipated deal of this year’s Ventana Sur market: All rights to France on Argentine Mariano Cohn’s “4 x 4,” sold by Latido Films and distributed throughout Argentina by Disney. After mounting speculation about which [...]

  • Aquaman 2018

    Film News Roundup: 'Aquaman' Hits $152 Million at International Box Office

    In today’s film news roundup, “Aquaman” has already grossed more than $150 million outside the U.S., Michael Masini joins “Birds of Prey,” and Freestyle buys the documentary “Shamanic Trekker.” BOX OFFICE Warner Bros.’ tentpole “Aquaman” has taken in $152 million overseas in 36 markets, with $135 million of that from China, where it opened on [...]

  • 'Winter's Night' Review: Enigmatic, Offbeat Korean

    Tallinn Film Review: 'Winter's Night'

    There are thousands of films about love’s beginning, and a great many about love’s end. But far fewer deal with a relationship’s late-middle: the spreading, sluggish delta of coupledom when decades of familiarity, if they have not bred contempt, at least threaten irritation. “Winter’s Night,” Jang Woo-jin’s playfully melancholic third feature, after the acclaimed “A [...]

  • Tomasz Kot UTA

    UTA Signs ‘Cold War’ Star Tomasz Kot (EXCLUSIVE)

    UTA has signed “Cold War” star Tomasz Kot. He has appeared in more than 30 films and 26 plays as well as dozens of television series. Most recently, Kot has received award-season buzz for his starring role as Wiktor in Pawel Pawlikowski’s feature “Cold War” for Amazon. The project has earned him a nomination for [...]

  • Kenneth Branagh's 'All Is True' Opening

    Kenneth Branagh's 'All Is True' Opening Palm Springs Film Festival

    The 30th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival will open on Jan. 3 with historical drama “All Is True,” starring Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, and Ian McKellen. Branagh, who will be in attendance at the opening night screening, directed from Ben Elton’s script about the little-known period in the final years of William Shakespeare. Branagh [...]

  • Actor and Activist Rodney Kageyama Dies

    Actor and Activist Rodney Kageyama Dies at 77

    Actor, activist and influentials member of the Japanese American community, Rodney Kageyama, died in his sleep Dec. 9. He was 77. The SAG member was known for roles in “Karate Kid IV” with Hillary Swank, Ron Howard’s film “Gung Ho” and the spinoff sitcom, and the TV movie “Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes” with Max [...]

  • Most Popular Films 2018: The Best

    9 Holiday Gift Ideas Inspired by This Year's Most Popular Films

    From superheroes to super nannies, 2018 was a year full of memorable characters — and memorable movies. Whether you’re a big film buff, an avid follower of a popular franchise, or have a couple movie fans in your life, here are nine gifts that capture the fun of some of this year’s biggest films. 1. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content