×
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

  • Atlantics

    Netflix Snags Worldwide Rights to Cannes Winners 'Atlantics,' 'I Lost My Body'

    Mati Diop’s feature directorial debut “Atlantics” and Jérémy Clapin’s animated favorite “I Lost My Body” have both been acquired by Netflix following wins at Cannes Film Festival. “Atlantics” was awarded the grand prix while “I Lost My Body” was voted the best film at the independent International Critics Week. The deals are for worldwide rights [...]

  • Stan Lee, left, and Keya Morgan

    Stan Lee's Former Business Manager Arrested on Elder Abuse Charges

    Stan Lee’s former business manager, Keya Morgan, was arrested in Arizona Saturday morning on an outstanding warrant from the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD’s Mike Lopez confirmed that the arrest warrant was for the following charges: one count of false imprisonment – elder adult; three counts of grand theft from elder or dependent adult, [...]

  • Moby attends the LA premiere of

    Moby Apologizes to Natalie Portman Over Book Controversy

    Moby has issued an apology of sorts after writing in his recently published memoir “Then It Fell Apart” that he dated Natalie Portman when she was 20 — a claim the actress refuted. “As some time has passed I’ve realized that many of the criticisms leveled at me regarding my inclusion of Natalie in Then [...]

  • Bong Joon-ho reacts after winning the

    Bong Joon-ho's 'Parasite' Wins the Palme d'Or at Cannes

    CANNES — The 72nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival wrapped with jury president Alejandro González Iñárritu announcing the group’s unanimous decision to award the Palme d’Or to South Korean director Bong Joon-ho for his sly, politically charged “Parasite.” Following last year’s win for humanistic Japanese drama “Shoplifters,” the well-reviewed Asian thriller represents the yin [...]

  • Invisible Life Brazilian Cinema

    Cannes Film Review: 'The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão'

    A “tropical melodrama” is how the marketing materials bill “The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão.” If that sounds about the most high-camp subgenre ever devised, Karim Aïnouz’s ravishing period saga lives up to the description — high emotion articulated with utmost sincerity and heady stylistic excess, all in the perspiring environs of midcentury Rio de [...]

  • Best Movies of Cannes 2019

    The 10 Best Movies of Cannes 2019

    The Cannes Film Festival is too rich an event to truly have an “off” year, but by the end of the 72nd edition, it was more or less universally acknowledged that the festival had regained a full-on, holy-moutaintop-of-art luster that was a bit lacking the year before. It helps, of course, to have headline-making movies [...]

  • Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Soaring to $100 Million-Plus Memorial Day Weekend Debut

    Disney’s live-action “Aladdin” remake is on its way to a commendable Memorial Day weekend debut with an estimated $109 million over the four-day period. The musical fantasy starring Will Smith and Mena Massoud should uncover about $87 million in its first three days from 4,476 North American theaters after taking in $31 million on Friday. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content