Essentially a character study of one of the seven deadly sins, Mr. Jealousy stars Eric Stoltz as Lester Grimm, an aspiring writer in New York City whose extreme suspicion and envy has sabotaged most of his previous romantic relationships. This trait also leads him to do something spectacularly unwise concerning his new girlfriend, Ramona (Annabella Sciorra). Upon discovering that a former lover of hers, now a celebrated short story writer (Chris Eigeman), attends a group therapy session in his neighborhood, Lester joins the group himself—adopting the name and psychological hang-ups of his best friend Vince (Carlos Jacott) as a cover.
The therapy gambit is a good one, allowing for plenty of head-shrink humor and—when Vince joins the group with the “disguise” of an English accent—hilarious farce. Otherwise writer-director Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, Frances Ha) employs dry, third-person narration to burrow into Lester’s worst qualities with a sense of wry self-evisceration. Jacott, also fun in Baumbach’s Kicking and Screaming, almost steals the film, partly because Stoltz is a bit aloof in the lead part. Sciorra, as Romana, is delightful. “I’ve been susceptible to most of the deadly sins, but not jealousy,” she says with an innocent smile. This of course only further inflames Lester’s fatal flaw; too bad the movie’s unconvincing, feel-good finale saves him from it.