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There've been a lot of angst-ridden, brewing, creatively stifled men in

the movies this year. From the mid-life-crisis paralyzed family man in

"American Beauty" to the beaten, numbed thirtysomethings in "Fight

Club," Hollywood has served up an image of male frustration in America

today that is as alarming as it is sympathetic, as troubling as it is


The independent feature "Jerome" very much follows this line of inquiry,

painting a portrait of a man that is confined and burnt out by his

immediate circumstances: his humdrum job, his emotionally indifferent

family and his general feeling of pervasive drudgery.

"Jerome" is not the name of the said protagonist. Rather, it's the

little desert commune in Arizona that the film's anti-hero Wade Hampton

(Drew Pillsbury) abandons his metal melding job, his high school

sweetheart wife, and his 13-year-old son for. It is a town he has only

come to know through the glossy surface of a beat-up postcard. A town of

unlimited potential precisely because it's something based on his own


Given such hapless motivations, Wade's symbolic journey to

self-realization cannot but be filled with disruptions and detours. His

itinerary begins to sway in many different, unexpected directions after

a free-spirited, gregarious drifter of dubious character named Jane

(Wendie Malick) crosses his path.

Written, directed and produced by Tom Johnston, David Elton and Eric

Tignini, "Jerome" is refreshingly introspective given its

characterization of a subject matter that has fast become a cliche.

Wade's pursuit is marked by such innocence and singleness of purpose

that it saves itself from the falling into simple nihilism and

regressive childishness. His conviction in his dream is so total that he

succeeds in blocking out the inherent emptiness of such a quest.

And it the character's unfaltering belief and the journey's prescribed

failure that finally lend the film its ironic, off-beat and tragicomic

quality. Near the end of the film, there's a scene in which Wade finally

realizes that he can no longer go on. He picks up the pay phone to call

home and is met with his wife's uninterrupted babbling. He immediately

hangs up and heads out again for Jerome, as if her voice was enough to

remind him of the dreadful reality he would have to go back to if he

doesn't go on.

Beautifully photographed, "Jerome" is a thoughtful, stylistic and

understated piece of filmmaking that is aware of what it is trying to

convey and how it wants to convey it. It exhibits moments of stylistic

flair but avoids over-stylization to allow the narrative unfold in a

paced, unhurried manner.

Aided by excellent performances from Pillsbury and Malick, "Jerome"

takes the viewers on a road less traveled. It is a road trip into the

core of everyday human dissatisfaction where the road is always bumpy,

the route is seldom in a straight line and the destination is never the

final stop.

*No Rating

Drew Pillsbury: Wade Hampton

Wendie Malick: Jane

Scott McKenna: Cal

Beth Kennedy: Pamela Hampton

James Keenley: Paul Hampton


A Phaedra presentation. Writers, directors, producers Thomas Johnston,

David Elton and Eric Tignini. Director of photography Gina Degerolamo.

Editors Jet Film Co. Production designer Linette Shorr. Running time: 1

hour, 31 minutes.