Home arrives on digital from the 24th of 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. Here there are echoes of Apple TV’s Palmer (2021); however, unlike Palmer, the redemptive arc we take feels loose and, at times, lost in its own mysteries. 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 is centred around his need to care for his ailing mum, Bernadette (Kathy Bates) and the attempt to lay old ghosts to rest. But some ghosts persist no matter how hard we try to exorcise them. Marvin isn’t searching for the town’s forgiveness – hell, he hasn’t even forgiven himself – he just seeks peace. But an unlikely opportunity for rebirth and hope develops in the unexpected company of Delta (Aisling Franciosi).
Despite some beautiful cinematography and heartfelt performances, Potente’s movie never leaves the starting blocks due to 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 attached to his name 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.
However, despite the problems at the heart of Potente’s debut, there are sparks of brilliance, Home’s cinematography at times embodies the style of a classic Western, with the horse replaced by a skateboard as Marvin rides into town to face a twisted 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 in what is an interesting but frustrating debut feature? I fear not.
Unfortunately, the redemptive arc we take in Franka Potente’s directorial debut feels loose and, at times, lost in its mystery.