Home – Review

Written & Directed by Franka Potente

Germany/2020/100mins

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Revenge and reconciliation. Forgiveness takes more than accepting an apology – and to truly repent, it takes more than showing a brave face at the local Church.

An eye for an eye may seem the viable option for some, but the agony and dredging of emotion involved does more to poison than the initial act. An ex-felon is determined to make amends – now forty, Marvin cannot shake the image he had twenty years ago, following a hit & run, now cannot escape the community who lost a valued member in the accident. But with a critically ill mother, Marvin now comprehends the experience of grief he caused and resolute determination to stand by his family.

The reconnection established between Marvin and his mother Bernadette is paramount, and his forging of an initial surrogate-redemption with the granddaughter of the hit & run incident Delta (Aisling Franciosi) are the centre-point of the film. And though revenge does creep its vile face into the mix, it serves more as an embellishment to enhance the gravitas of the healing process and acceptance of the pain Marvin has caused.

Jake McLaughlin’s brand of pain as Marvin, devoid of expectant displays of aggression or lamentations conjures an affectionate and enthralling relationship with Kathy Bates – one which retrains itself from dramatic torque where others may lean into melodrama. Time is taken in Franka Potente’s directorial debut to establish harm and the yearning to reconnect, but enough is kept to allow Bates the room to communicate much from an often-quieter role of a mother who struggles with what her son has done, but the affection she has for him.

And though teetering on the outskirts of cliches, Potente does their utmost to fend off the formulaic poisons which could claim this narrative with a lesser director. Romance has a place, but it is minor – and serves a semiotic purpose within the story. The chemistry McLaughlin and Franciosi share is one with more a kindred understanding than traditional romance, flirtations refrain until the later stages of the film, and their initial encounters enable Franciosi to demonstrate their exceptional range.

Stagnation ripples through this rural community, where time has little ebb and flow through the film. And though there is a presence of night shots, the majority of Frank Griebe’s cinematography maintains the harsh lighting of the intense sun – no change in daylight, weather, or colour palette throughout day-shots. Where the snippets of violence are present, the crimson red becomes a staple visual – the most effective splash of colour utilised within the film, and its single-use more effective than a myriad of over-the-top Tarantino splatters.

Criticisms of a familiar story may be present to some, but Potente’s determination to project the social rot of the US does more than dredge up the past – it reminds us that familiar scenes are commonplace not out of lazy filmmaking, but out of how we continually ignore warnings – coming into its own with a visceral though subdued attitude towards loss. With solid performances all around and palpable chemistry from their principal players, Home is an accomplished and compact piece of life, loss and the struggles and joys in-between.

Home will be available on Digital Download from 24th January and can be purchased here.

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