When would you ever let a stranger stay in your home? Two of them? Three of them? It would just never happen, especially when you’re a single mother of two young daughters. In possibly one the most far-fetched romantic comedies, this unbelievable circumstance completely works in Reece Witherspoon’s latest, Home Again.
One thing you will notice with Home Again is a whole lot of similarities to other rom-coms, in particular to the 2007 film The Holiday starring Kate Winslet and Jude Law. In The Holiday the movie bases itself around a talented composer of Hollywood films that no longer creates music. In Home Again it revolves around the daughter of a Hollywood film Director. Even the score of Home Again has similarities to The Holiday. And finally the colour saturation used to incite emotion is very similar, if not the same yellow colour and feeling.
The similarities are easy to make because the Writer, Director and Producer of The Holiday is Nancy Meyers who also happens to be the mother of the Writer and Director of Home again Hallie Meyers. Hallie Myers had grown up on the sets of many a rom-com so it was inevitable she would find herself directing one at some point. This is Myers debut into the writing and directing arena and seems to do it with ease, perhaps with the safety net of having her mother onset producing the film alongside her.
Home Again starring Reece Witherspoon (Big Little Lies, Wild, Legally Blond) is the story of a newly separated mother Alice and her two young girls Isabel (Lola Flanery) and Rosie (Eden Grace Redfield). She must have really needed to escape her partner because she moved her little family across the country. From New York to Los Angeles Alice moves back into her childhood home and residence of her late father Film Director John Kinney. On a night out with the girls for her birthday Alice meets a dashing young Man, Harry (Pico Alexander) and his two friends Teddy (Nat Wolff) and George (Jon Rudnitsky). Drunk, Alice and her friends bring the significantly younger boys back to her house while her Children are staying with her mother, Lillian (Candice Bergen).
In a comedic turn of events Lillian drops the children come home early only to discover the three young men. Lillian takes a liking to the boys over common ground, as the boys happen to be pitching their movie to executives and currently have nowhere to live. So Lillian invites the boys to live in the guest room adjacent to the house. Alice’s girls take a liking to the boys as they become a big help for around the house and emotional support for Alice as well. That’s until the sexual relationship between Alice and Harry becomes too much and she asks them to move out.
Alice’s husband Austin played by the talented Michael Sheen, comes back into the picture from New York to be closer to his girls. But despite some altercations between Austin and Teddy everyone manages to live happily ever after and Alice has everything she needs. Realising this as everyone sits to a lovely meal, curiously made all by herself in a vastly small amount of time.
For the most part there is no stand out performances, it’s rather a “wish-washy” development of characters. Most “acting” was done by looking left and looking right, implying they are thinking about something. There seems to be a lack of depth to the characters with no attempt to change that. However there are two amazing partnerships within Home Again giving you the impression the relationship between the two actors are genuine. It’s between one of the boys, George and one of the daughters, Isabel. When George makes it to Isabel’s final performance the emotion displayed was a throat tightening moment.
Reece Witherspoon isn’t known to venture away from her highly emotional bubbly characters. Even with her most acclaimed roles, Witherspoon manages to maintain her default character. But in this case it is exactly what makes her character work. Maybe she’s just destined to Hugh Grant – stuck with rom-coms.
For an unbelievable film, it’s something fun. A middle-aged woman finding she doesn’t need to be in a long-term relationship to be happy. She finds happiness in three young filmmakers who fulfill her in many different ways and change the life of herself and her two daughters. There are a few laugh-out-loud moments, but otherwise the humour is circumstantial. But if you don’t expect anything you’ll be happily surprised.
Review by Jay Cook