Benicio Del Toro and Misty Upham are featured in 'Jimmy P.,' a less-than-electric movie based on a true story. (Nicole Rivell / Topeka Productions)
If you’re going to build an entire film around the treatment of one patient, you’d best have either a very interesting patient, a compelling problem or a dramatic breakthrough.
“Jimmy P.” has none of these things, and as a result, it’s something of a major bore. Which is somewhat surprising since it features two actors of great potential, Benicio Del Toro and Mathieu Almaric. But so it goes.
Del Toro plays Jimmy Picard, who is Native American — although the term Indian is used here — who served in World War II and fractured his skull along the way. Based on a true story, it’s now 1949 and he’s suffering severe headaches, fighting bouts of blindness and generally freaking out. He goes to a Veterans’ hospital in Topeka that specializes in brain injuries, but no one can figure out what’s wrong with him.
The doctors there decide to call in an anthropologist who has studied both Native American culture and psychoanalysis, one Georges Devereux (Almaric). Devereux decides Jimmy isn’t suffering from any known mental illness and begins having daily one-hour therapy sessions with him.
And that’s about it. Devereux’s apparent mistress (Gina McKee), a happily married woman, comes to stay with him for a while, which may have actually happened, but it’s nothing more than a dull distraction here.
Then again, maybe director Arnaud Desplechin was in search of some distraction, since the progress of Jimmy’s therapy sessions is less than electric. Del Toro brings a plodding, near-Bronx accent (“My mudder”) to the role, which again, may be accurate, but it’s hardly inviting. And the revelations here — Jimmy has a problem with women — are mostly mundane. Honestly, it’s hard to see why “Jimmy P.” was ever made.
Running time: 117 minutes