A married couple tries to cope with the suicide of their son Jimmy.
Evidence that not all TV movies are awful, “After Jimmy” is proof that not just in Hollywood and here in Europe can great films be made. The cast list is of the highest calibre and they certainly do produce the goods in what is an emotionally moving and very real looking movie.
The Stapp’s seems like a picture perfect family. After years of marriage, mother Maggie (Baxter) and father Ward (Davison) are still madly in love. Their children seem just as happy. Jimmy (Facinelli) and Rosie (Mae Whitman) are doing well at school and are popular amongst their friends. Even Jimmy has a steady girlfriend. Life couldn’t be sweeter for them all. But, as we all know, things can change within the blink of an eye.
After wanting to stay at home rather than go to Church one Sunday morning, the Stapp’s leave without Jimmy. Upon arriving back from service, they find Jimmy has committed suicide. They are shocked and surprised that their seemingly happy son and sibling has done this, and wonder what troubled him so much that he was unable to live out his life. Due to the truly horrific and emotionally moving moments anybody could ever bear witness to, the family finds themselves unable to cope with what has happened. Maybe I was too loving, says Maggie. Or was I never there for him, ponders Ward. The remainder of the movie follows the Stapp’s as they try to come to terms with what has happened, with the finale showing whether or not the love they have is enough to endure the pain of losing a loved one in such upsetting circumstances.
Although the storyline might sound like any regular television movie, with its emotionally moving moments sure to challenge anyone’s emotions, After Jimmy really is something else. Written by Cynthia Saunders and Judith Fein, their credits according to www.imdb.com aren’t exactly the most lengthy. Their consideration when writing about such a topic seems to be well-researched and at not one point throughout does it condescend the family and the situation they find themselves in. Sadly, many think of suicide as a sign of weakness but Saunders and Fein’s script states very simply that what Jimmy does is not the act of a coward, but of a person who was brave enough to go along with something they wholeheartedly believed in.
The loudest applauds of the movie here must go to Baxter and Davison. Both seasoned performers, they relish the chance to play these characters. At the beginning, they are a very strong couple who you could picture growing old together. Jimmy’s suicide acts as a catalyst for what many viewers might see as a domino situation, with many strong pillars falling. The range of emotions displayed throughout their respected performances are quite exhilarating, and it saddens this reviewers heart to read that out of these two only Davison has found success in mainstream Hollywood. My fingers remain crossed for Baxter.
Although the screen time by Facinelli is minimal, he certainly does shine in every moment and delivers each of his line’s to perfection. The split personality that Jimmy has, with his sunny disposition to the outside world but deep down he is not happy at all, is acted so well that it reminds this reviewer of a young Marlon Brando. Facinelli has yet to find true Hollywood recognition but, as with Baxter, my fingers remain crossed.
The direction by Jordan is really deserved of the realms of something higher than a television movie. Throughout the film he does not give in to shooting the action using over-the-top camera operating, but treats the actors with respect by letting the cameras roll that extra few moments than normally seen in contemporary movies.
Now, I’m not one for crying but by the end of the film I found myself reaching for the box of tissues. The reality of suicide and the effects that the loved ones experience due to losing someone so close to them is completely believable that at times I thought this to be a documentary rather than a feature film. After Jimmy is hardly shown on television here in Great Britain, and yet to be released on DVD or video anywhere, but I sure hope that it is released soon. As I write this, its rating on www.imdb.com has been made by a mere 148 people with yours truly being one of those. Such a movie that depicts what is both a harrowing experience for the brave soul who goes through with their decision and the events that happen as a result which seem so real is a must-see and indeed a classic.
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