directed by Josh Mond, 2015
A stain of blood remains on a shower window after a night of debauchery, a son miles away from home tells his mother, “I love you” on the phone in a subtle register that suggests a history of tenderness and an immediate obligation of proximity between the two. The blood and the phone call can be read as mostly unrelated moments but they exist as remnants of lived-in experience rather than broad strokes, each aiding in our understanding of the protagonist’s stunted growth. Both moments also stand out as details that linger on in writer-director Josh Mond’s Sundance gem James White, a film which follows an aimless and fiery twentysomething (Christopher Abbot) working on getting his shit together as his mother deals with a serious illness. It’s a premise that veers dangerously close to eye-rolling at first glance, but Mond’s confident debut feature lends credence to the notion that proper observation and pathos can do much to transcend the face of familiarity.