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click to enlarge Jimmy P. (Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian)

Jimmy P. (Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian)

A fascinating cross-cultural experiment that eventually runs itself into the ground, this 2013 French-American drama by Arnaud Desplechin (A Christmas Tale) tells the true story of Jimmy Picard (Benicio Del Toro), a Blackfoot Indian and World War II combat veteran whose mental problems landed him at a VA hospital in Topeka, Kansas, under the care of an eccentric Hungarian anthropologist (Mathieu Amalric). Desplechin is a master of quiet, patient characterization, and the script (cowritten by the talented critic Kent Jones) peels Jimmy like an onion, unraveling the racial prejudice and battlefield stress that contributed to his mental distress. Unfortunately, as the Hungarian begins to push past the social pressures and penetrate Jimmy’s more individual problems (childhood sexual trauma, an unforgiving mother, a bad marriage, a daughter he's never known), this grows more pedestrian and the lack of dramatic tension becomes ever more apparent.

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