A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon (William Richert, 1988)


Jimmy Reardon (River Phoenix) is a dreamer. All he wants to do is write poetry, fly to Hawaii with his girlfriend and get his best friend Fred (a pre-Chandler, yet Chadler-esque, Matthew Perry) laid. It is a premise done countless times by so many coming-of age films (especially set in the eighties). Jimmy’s dilemma is also familiar: what should you do – and who do you want to be – after high-school?

There are two paths: either attend his father’s old business school (paid for by his parents) or to leave Chicago and make it on his own financially. Jimmy’s parents want him to have stability. He wants to leave and forge his own way on his terms with the money he has saved. However, when Jimmy is he is conned out of his savings by an ex-girlfriend the evening takes becomes a series of argument, sex, reconcilliations, sex and the realisation that life is not all idle dreaming and poetic fantasies.

Jimmy Reardon is a relatively overlooked film that never quite reached the success of John Hughes’ coming of age tales. Director William Richert, who wrote and directed the film, based his screenplay on his book Aren’t You Even Gonna Kiss Me Goodbye? Not having read the book myself, I cannot say which angle of the material Richert chose to focus on or even if anything was reworked for film audiences.

While this is not the greatest coming of age film there is no denying how engaging and immensely talented Phoenix was an an actor and you cannot help wondering where this talent would have taken him if he was still around.