A young girl comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who's an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children's imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty.
A veteran tracker with the Fish and Wildlife Service helps to investigate the murder of a young Native American woman, and uses the case as a means of seeking redemption for an earlier act of irresponsibility which ended in tragedy.
"Home Again" is predictable, flawed at times, yet genuinely sweet. Writer and Director Haillie Meyers-Shyer, daughter of renowned romantic comedy Director Nancy Meyers, who also produced, starts "Home Again" unevenly, then finds her heartfelt way. The movie is about how love creates the unique kind of family. "Home Again" stars Reese Witherspoon as spunky divorced Mom Alice Kinney caring for her daughters, 11 year-old Isabel, played by Lola Flaney, and her younger sister Rosie, played Eden Grace Redfield. Her estranged husband is subversively selfish record producer Austen, played by charming Michael Sheen. Alice moves back to her famous movie director Father John Kinney's home in Los Angeles, from New York.
Her wise free- spirited Mother Lillian, played with comic gravitas by Candice Bergen, only wants Alice to be happy. The possibility emerges under contrived circumstance, when three young wannabe film- makers become welcome house guests and caring babysitters of Alice. Handsome passionate Pico Alexander plays short film director Harry. Compassionate and whimsical Reid Scott plays writer Justin, who even more than his other buddies is the distinctive fan of Alice's father John. Funny and level headed Nat Wolf is the surprise as actor Teddy, whose courage arises in the face of Austen's deception. Predictably, Harry and Alice attract, and have the affair creating the inevitable drama.
As "Home Again" opens Alice drives Isabel and Rosie to their first day at their new school. In a stilted exchange Isabel regurgitates her presumed depression symptoms from a Zoloft commercial. Yikes. Fortunately, Meyers-Shyer discovers her touching way and narrative voice. I think "Home Again" moves in its quieter moments, surrendering to its humanity. Ultimately, "Home Again" defines this new family distinct from our perception of the real world one. After all this is a movie. Good people, good family give us faith to believe in the good in others, and to believe in ourselves.
In the disheartening scene Riley suffers when Harry is a no show at the dinner party with her friends. Harry foregoes the dinner to schmooze with potential producers and financiers of his, Teddy, and Justin's movie dream. Reese is understated sadness, vulnerable, and calm. She confronts Harry the next morning. Her 40 year-old Alice has really no time for an irresponsible 27 year-old charmer, who doesn't distinguish what matters. The man she wants and needs is honor and compassion. Alexander as Harry is brilliant humility as the kid, realizing that he really needs to man up. No kidding.
"Home Again" works its subtle spell in the quieter moments. We experience great joy as the Boys create the driven-in style dinner at the home as they all watch John Kinney's Oscar winning movie on projector film. Writer Justin is childlike wonder reading through the memorabilia of Alice's famous father, his hero. Meyers-Shyer hint in Witherspoon's Alice, the reborn love for her estranged late Father, seeing what happiness her father gave Harry, Justin, and Teddy. Perhaps, she will forgive and allow for her father's frailty. Innocent and timid Flaney as Isabel finds her older "soul' brother Justin. Isabel wrote a play for school. She requests Justin be back stage with her when she performs as she and Justin drive to school. As often as "Home Again" succumbs to clumsy, it returns and touches your heart.
In the poignant narrative arc, having heard enough from their candidate big deal movie producer regarding their film, Harry says, "We're leaving. We have to see an 11 year-old in a school play." "Home Again" gets it right. Family is what works, not what is supposed to be. The good people, the people who love you, make you believe in the good, and make you believe in yourself.
I really liked "Home Again". I think it's a lot like people. No one is perfect. Love is about giving your very best.
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