SYNOPSIS: An ex-felon returns home from prison and confronts the demons from his past.
Franka Potente is best known as the titular character in the German cult classic Run Lola Run, an experimental masterpiece that analysed the idea of free will versus determinism by way of chaos theory’s butterfly effect. Since then, her acting career flourished with roles in tentpole releases such as The Bourne Identity and The Conjuring series.
After more than two decades in front of the camera, the emotional drama HOME marks her first move off-screen to helm a feature film.
The drama revolves around Marvin Hacks who, after seventeen years in prison, heads back to his small community and ailing mother Bernadette. Now forty, Marvin has served his time for a crime he committed but struggles with the demons from his past. The people in his hometown haven’t forgotten nor forgiven him for the atrocity. As Marvin struggles to acclimatise to the world again, hope comes in the form of a friendly nurse and a young woman who is more connected to his past than it first seems.
At first, Home comes across as your typical maudlin drama about petty criminals in near-abandoned towns and poor communities. That said, Potente’s fastidious and sensitive direction, buoyed by some fantastic performances, particularly from lead Jake McLaughlin, soon break the movie away from all familiarities.
There are little touches and nuances to Marvin’s return home that bring great depth to his character. In one particular scene, Marvin struggles to answer a touch-screen phone as it rings. It’s a small gesture – insignificant in other films – but it brings a poignancy to the drama and adds more meaning to Marvin’s struggles. The mid-life man, stunted by his incarceration, has to come back to a world that has pressed on without him – technologically and socially. Overwhelmed by his new surroundings allows McLaughlin to really shine with the material, putting in both an astonishing and astute performance.
McLaughlin interpretation is supported by seasoned performers such as Kathy Bates and Stephen Root as well as upcoming actors Lil Rey Howery and Aisling Franciosi. Not only do they populate with film with some superb performances, but they serve as hopeful reminders to McLaughlin’s Marvin. They offer a promise and a future, and at times, possibly even forgiveness.
Though Home languishes somewhat around the halfway point, Potente directs this movie with an intimacy and benevolence that transforms the film into a satisfyingly refreshing spin on the released convict sub-genre.
HOME is available on Digital Download NOW.