Home Again is a modern story of how one woman comes to terms with the breakup of her marriage, and how she moves from dependence on a husband to dependence on herself.
After leaving her husband Austen (Michael Sheen), Alice Kinney (Reese Witherspoon) moves back to her father’s old Los Angeles home. Her late father worked in the movie industry and while Alice is in his home she strikes up a relationship with three young men, all of whom are just starting out in the same industry as that of her father. The three men, Teddy, Harry and George, are all around 12 years younger than Alice who celebrates her 40th birthday in the story. They form a composite ‘husband’ for Alice as she gradually begins to disentangle herself from relationship dependence. One of the young men is great with her two daughters. The other is a whizz at computers and helps her set up a system for her business, while the third becomes Alice’s romantic partner.
Alice offers the three a temporary home in her father’s house. And it is here that we see Alice deal with her past, face her own need to assert herself in the working world, and work out what it is she wants from a man – and from herself – in a relationship.
Home Again is lighthearted. The fallouts are mild. The lessons gentle. On one hand it is typically Hollywood, filled with superficial, beautiful, privileged people. On the other, it is a well-rounded story of one woman’s move towards independence, a journey most of us need to undertake.
Home Again opens at cinemas in South Africa on Friday 15 September. It carries an age restriction of PG13.
A review by Brenda Daniels
The film poster with its original film title. This 2013 film shows in cinemas in South Africa as part of the European Film Festival. Photo: creative commons
The 2015 European Film Festival celebrates women through the theme A Woman’s World. In Concrete Night, it is director Pirjo Honkasalo who is celebrated.
The film centres around a teenaged-boy named Simo who lives with his single mother and an older brother in a miserable-looking apartment block in Helsinki, Finland. Inner city shots, night filming, graffiti and grime, and relentless rain add to the depressing atmosphere of the story. It certainly belies the film’s given description which contains the words “beautiful Helsinki”. In fact, I caught myself thinking I wouldn’t live in Helsinki if I was paid to. But I think this is what Honkasalo intended: to create a setting that echoed the characters’ hopelessness.
The story takes place over the course of only one night and serves as a journey of sorts – Simo’s passage into adulthood. According to his brother, adulthood or future is one in which humans don’t matter, and one that is better lived without hope. Taken too literally by immature Simo, this advice has devastating consequences for the young man, and proves excruciatingly untrue for his brother.
Concrete Night is not an enjoyable film. It is strange and confrontational, and I found myself glancing at my watch hoping it would end. But the ending did bring the difficult elements of the story into sharp focus. I was left feeling depressed but with an appreciation that Concrete Night is a well-made film.
Concrete Night screens at Cinema Nouveau (in Durban) on Friday 15th May at 5.30pm.