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GOSHEN -- Near the beginning of "Lonesome Jim," Casey Affleck drives down Main Street.
"That's our town!" said Goshen resident Bonnie Martin, watching the movie in a packed Linway Plaza Cinema theater Friday night.
When Nick and Charity Boyd, owners of the South Side Soda Shop, appeared on screen -- spurning Affleck when he asks for a ride --someone in the audience said, "Oh my God!" in recognition.
There was a lot of talking during this movie showing, but no one shushed anyone.
"It feels like 'Where's Waldo' in some ways. You're watching this thing and you see all these familiar faces around town," said Bryan Falcón, a Goshen resident who cast extras in the movie.
"Lonesome Jim" -- written by area native Jim Strouse -- opened in Goshen Friday, more than two years after it was filmed here. Several hundred locals helped out as extras and volunteer crew members
It's a dark comedy about a guy who moves back to Indiana to have a nervous breakdown, but finds his family beat him to it.
Martin said it's a depressing take on the area but she liked the movie because, "In the end it was a bit more uplifting."
Goshen College student Alyson Dyck liked the realism of the characters -- "I can see everything that happened actually happen. It wasn't like a movie."
Brad Weirich, who went to school with Strouse, saw the movie as part of a double feature Friday (the other was "Mission: Impossible III" -- no local connection).
"I kept hearing people say it was so depressing, but I didn't think it was that depressing at all," he said. He particularly liked the writing and how believable the characters were.
Ann Hostetler -- whose son makes a brief appearance (well, the back of his head) -- said the dark parts of the movie showed a side of the area most people don't normally see. Her husband, psychologist Mervin Smucker, liked how "Jim" slowly moved from "chronic despair" to hope at the end of the movie.
Though resident Jerry Peters was quick to note that the area was very much a caricature of the real thing. "I didn't recognize the Goshen I know in the movie," he said, but said he really liked what he saw.
His only complaint? "They misspelled my name" (in the "special thanks" part of the credits). In case you were wondering who "Jerry Peterson" is.
The movie's played in about 65 theaters, scattered around the country, since it opened to a wider audience in March. It's gotten mixed reviews -- only 55 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes, an online clearinghouse of movie reviews, but positive marks from Peter Travers and Roger Ebert.
Matt Honderich, a Goshen resident who briefly appears in the film and a self-proclaimed "really critical guy," was mixed on it. He didn't see it Friday, but attended a showing in Indianapolis.
On the one hand, he thought the story was lacking something and he didn't feel much for the characters. On the other hand, he loved the cinematography and thrill of seeing Goshen on screen.
"It was great to see on the big screen, with big actors, my home," he said.
The filmmakers had hoped for a big Goshen premiere, but couldn't make it because Strouse has another project -- directing a movie in Chicago starring John Cusack.
"We wish we could be in Goshen celebrating with everyone," said Galt Niederhoffer, Strouse's wife and co-producer of "Lonesome Jim." "We will be ever grateful to the people of Goshen for their kindness and generosity."
Contact Thomas V. Bona at firstname.lastname@example.org.