Home arrives on digital from the 24th January 2022.
Franka Potente’s directorial debut is a story of redemption and rebirth set in small-town America, where community memories are long-held, and forgiveness is hard to find. There are echoes here of Apple TV’s Palmer (2021). However, unlike Palmer, the redemptive arc we take feels loose and, at times, lost in its own mystery. Marvin (Jake Mclaughlin) has just been released from prison following his conviction many years before for the murder of a local woman. His slow meandering journey back into town centred around his need to care for his ailing mum, Bernadette (Kathy Bates) and his attempt to lay old ghosts to rest. But even as he enters the town, his past haunts his every move, from the nervous stares of bystanders as he buys a coffee to the whispers that persist behind his back.
However, Marvin isn’t searching for the town’s forgiveness; hell, he hasn’t even forgiven himself. He just seeks peace to care for his mother, who is dying of lung cancer, played brilliantly by Bates. But an unlikely opportunity for rebirth and hope develops in the company of Delta (Aisling Franciosi), the granddaughter of the woman he killed many years before.
READ MORE: PALMER
Unfortunately, despite some beautiful cinematography and heartfelt performances, Potente’s movie never leaves the starting blocks. Here Home’s problems centre on a redemptive arc that often feels disjointed and clichéd. It is clear from the outset that Marvin has left one prison only to enter another. However, we are denied the opportunity to fully understand the social reactions to his release and the murder that still haunts the town. This creates a jigsaw missing half its pieces as Marvin attempts to navigate the townsfolk and his place in their midst. In addition to this, the relationship Marvin develops with Delta feels far too simplistic in its tone and substance, a mere plot point rather than a meaningful meeting of souls.
However, despite the problems at the heart of Potente’s debut, there are sparks of brilliance in a movie that relies on the performances at its core. For example, Home’s cinematography at times embodies the style of a classic Western, the horse replaced by a skateboard as Marvin rides into town to face community justice. Equally impressive is Mclaughlin’s performance as he embodies the tortured soul of a man longing for inner peace that may never come. But are these nuggets of potential enough to keep the audience’s attention? The answer to this question is likely to be no, in what is an interesting but frustrating debut feature.
Unfortunately, the redemptive arc we take in Franka Potente’s directorial debut feels loose and, at times, lost in its mystery.