Home Review: 3.5/5
Rojin Thomas’s Home is a simple tale, but it tugs your heartstrings from the moment you start watching it.
Home throws light into the lives of a few members of a dysfunctional family, all of them trying their best to leave their mark in the world. Oliver Twist (played by Indrans) used to own a cassette shop, but somehow he was left astray when technology overpowered him. Stuck in the middle of taking care of his ageing father and impressing his sons, he forgets how extraordinary he is. His son, Anthony (Sreenath Bhasi), is trying to make it big in the world of Malayalam cinema, following his one-hit-wonder, and is now left reeling to pick up the pieces of his failed career.
Stuck in the midst of the strained relationship between Oliver and Anthony, the other members of the family are struggling to walk on eggshells around them. Despite their estranged paths, the one thing they all have in common is technology. Some of them are experts at using it, while others are not.
Home takes a deep dive into the psyche of human beings as we try to negotiate this new world of clicks, saves, stories and statuses. It is a light-hearted, heartwarming tale of a broken family slowly trying to find their way back to each other through a few ‘extraordinary’ yet normal circumstances.
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A Masterclass in Writing Characters
There is no denying the fact that Home is a character-driven story and it delivers nothing but exceptional, flawed and real characters. From the very beginning, we are made aware of what each of them is going through, without grand monologues or big sentences. Every word, every look and every touch mean something more than what meets the eye.
The subtlety with which the film works immediately reveals the strained relationship between the family members. Consider the opening sequence; in five minutes, they manage to establish that Oliver is exasperated and exhausted trying to be there for everybody; Kuttiamma is fatigued and run-down by the hassles of everyday life; Charles is trying to disappear into his technology to escape his estranged family; Anthony is attempting to sever whatever little relationship he has with them and Oliver’s father is battling Alzheimer’s. There is no external narrator setting the plot for us, but their actions speak volumes.
The Portrait of Realism
Close your eyes and imagine this – a big house, rather messy in appearance, but warmly decorated with random objects almost like a miscellaneous museum. There’s a newspaper lying in a puddle of fresh rainwater, people snoozing their alarms, throwing their blankets over their heads, a silent breakfast table and the clicking of phones, being woken up by the sound of notifications, a terraced vegetable garden and a library of cassettes. This is the portrait of realism that Home presents.
Ironically, the characters are on the hunt for extraordinary events, big moments that would define them forever, but each of these extraordinary events they are referring to is very ordinary. They are all products of simple, beautiful daily occurrences.
An Exploration of Consciousness
Home has many characters and we are the characters. All of us can identify with one or more of them, and it evokes such a feeling of self-awareness and empathy, you feel ridiculous at being so openly called out. You get defensive and angry, you become agitated and then you begin to calm down.
Home presents a wonderful argument without victim-blaming or criticising the technology-induced conflict and estrangement between family members. Mobile phones are not the villains. We are our own villains, consistently lost in the world of social media and our own reeling thoughts, struggling to record every event for the sake of memory. But, we forget to experience them in the first place. We find and lose ourselves in this story and it is a wonderfully cathartic experience.
Visuals and Cinematography
Home is a visual treat for the audience. Almost like a Pinterest board for escapist fantasies, Home screams normality and whimsy at the same time. Oliver Twist’s house is as messy as his family’s life is. That said, there is something very comforting and endearing about the broken, antique furniture, his thriving terrace garden and the plants hanging in every nook and corner of his house.
Anthony’s flat is an utter mess, but somehow it is not disgusting, it is the picture of a struggling young man. The saturated lighting, the commendable cinematography and the picturesque environment truly breathe life into the stories of these characters.
What Could Have Been Better
There is no question of the feats that this film has accomplished, but it is not perfect. In an overambitious attempt to incorporate multiple issues, some plot points were left incomplete or hastily resolved. There were so many characters on-screen at all times, and thus, the relationship between Anthony and his girlfriend, Priya was an afterthought. Toxic at times, it did not extend the same depth of detail as the complex relationships explored in the story. It was raw and messy but in an unsatisfactory manner.
That said, Home is a must-watch, one-of-a-kind story about relationships, people, hassles, technology and the simple, unaddressed conflict that estranges them. Featuring exemplary performances from the actors and a subtle, nuanced script, it leaves you reeling for more. As Malayalam cinema is carving out a niche for itself, this film would go down in the books as one of the best. Do give it a watch on Amazon Prime and let us know your thoughts!