Sunday, January 31, 2010

Home (the film)

Film poster for Home

Last night we settled down in front of the TV to watch the film Home.

It’s the story of a family who live in a peaceful rural setting. The kind of family that plays roller hockey at night on the expanse of tarmac – an unfinished and thus far abandoned motorway – in front of their home.

The fragile mother (played by Isabelle Huppert) stays at home while the DIY-prone father (Olivier Gourmet) works. The eldest daughter spends all day lying outside on a sun lounger listening to heavy metal music while the two younger children go to school.

On the surface it’s a calm existence, but the shadow of the motorway and its potential for disruption is never too far away. The film follows the family’s reaction to the reopening of the highway, and the toll the traffic takes on their mental and physical health.

Some have described Home as a black comedy. Personally, I found more darkness than laughs in the 93 minute film.

The distress quickly spreads across the household. Each person reacts differently. But the net result is that we watch the family choosing to become more and more reclusive and shut in as the traffic builds up outside the front door. (There is practically no dialogue between family members and people in the outside world throughout the entire film.) Stir crazy, they are ill-equipped to tackle the problem.

The saddest point comes near the end of the film when the family’s isolation leads them to miss out on an opportunity for reconciliation. It was pointed out to me that Home is really a giant allegory for what can happen to anyone facing difficult issues. Running away from a problem – or, as in this case, just burying your head in the sand – does nothing to alleviate the stress and deal with the predicament at hand. Fear is contagious; paranoia is infectious.

The QFT’s review describes Home as

“A nightmarish metaphor for the modern world and car culture in particular, Home is one of the most quietly disturbing films you will see this year.”

Directed by Ursula Meier, Home is a beautifully crafted film, with superb cinematography to accompany the bleak plot. The Swiss (French) film has been picking up awards at festivals and is well worth seeing in a cinema or on DVD.

Still from the film Home - crossing the road to go to school

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