24 October 2011

Sean Hackett's HOMECOMING

I don't really do reviews anymore, but since I'm covering a festival, I figure I probably should. Follow the festival buzz for Flyway using the Twitter hostage #flyway11

Homecoming (Sean Hackett)

I've written about HOMECOMING before, but if we're covering the Flyway Film Festival and it's in competition, then there's no reason not to write a few more words about it.

HOMECOMING stars Brea Grant (DEXTER) as Estelle, an Army medic home on leave for 18 days. Her mother, in an attempt to provide some sense of normalcy, attempts to cram an entire year's worth of holidays into these 18 days, both giving the mother a chance to celebrate the holidays with her daughter and the film a sense of a greater passage of time, of seasons, if you will.

Of course, like all members of the military, she's left behind an entire life. She runs into people she knows from high school, and hangs out with her close friends Owen (Hackett) and Austin (Tom Fox Davies), two guys who you might classify as slackers. Although, I don't know, I don't know that they've got the initiative to become slackers.

Estelle's been in the military for a while now, and essentially Owen and Austin are killing time in their hometown, waiting for her to come home for good. Only, it's not happening.

I like to think of HOMECOMING as something of a mumblecore antidote. Hackett, who's worked with the Duplass Brothers, spends his first feature on a story of white guys in their mid-20's doing nothing much and then essentially kicks their asses into gear. In a similar vein, Hackett turns the military film on it's ear, making a war movie without the war, without the politics of war, and just focuses on this one soldier and how her decision to "help people" affects the people around her. In that way, it's a rare film that isn't really about the lead character at all. It's about the domino effect her life creates on those who are left behind.

The story takes a few minutes to ramp up, but once it hits the second act, it really starts to take off, telling a story with a surprising amount of emotional depth and tension, doing things you never really expect this sort of film to do. Where you think it'll zig, it zags. Well worth the journey. [B+]

Filmmaker Lucas McNelly is spending a year on the road, volunteering on indie film projects around the country, documenting the process and the exploring the idea of a mobile creative professional. You can see more from A Year Without Rent at the webpage. His feature-length debut is now available to rent on VOD. Follow him on Twitter: @lmcnelly.