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A Wasted Opportunity
on 10 November 2007
Mr Jones is a film which could, and should, have been much better. Richard Gere, the director and the writer have gone to considerable lengths to research the subject of manic depression and this is very evident. Gere's performance here is surely one of his best and with Mike Figgis he has created a convincing portrait of a man with a crippling mental illness. You can feel his absolute exhilaration when high, especially during the classical concert and you sense his descent into hell when he crashes into depression. Unfortunately this section is less than satisfactory simply because it is too short, this I believe because the studio decided in its infinite wisdom that the audience should not be subjected to subject matter which is too depressing. My response to that is not printable. In fact the whole film smacks of studio interference - it is strangely wobbly throughout.
Of course, we can't expect a documentary about manic depression and while mental illness may be the source of great amusement to many it is not, believe me, at all funny and should not be presented as entertainment. This film tries do do both and while it does offer some understanding of the condition it also uses it to motivate a romance which in context, is ludicrous.
The supporting performances are strong, in partiular Delroy Lindo as Howard, a co-worker who seems to understand Jones and offers him support but this relationship is not developed and simply sits on the sidelines. Lena Olin is somewhat flat but Gere injects his character with a vitality which endears the viewer to him and his portrayal of Jones as a man in total despair is intensely moving. We do not find out much about Jones though and this aspect is something which in terms of the script simply seems to be, well, missing.
Is it a love story or a study of manic depression? It undoubtably leans towards the former, but it is Gere's performance in the latter which makes it worth watching.