2 Stars – Irresponsible
All of us long to belong. Most often this desire is fulfilled by our biological family, but when divorce or death breaks up our family, our loss is real. Even if we are not aware of the depth of our loneliness, we become vulnerable to many artificial solutions. This truth is the theme of Hallie Myers-Shyers debut film, Home Again. As both the writer and director of this romantic comedy, Shyers presents an alternative form of family full of the expected struggles.
At the center of the tale is forty-year-old Alice Kinney (Reese Witherspoon). The daughter of a famed director who divorced her mother, Lillian (Candace Bergen) when Alice was only four, she is now separated from her husband Austen (Michael Sheen). Leaving her husband in New York and returning to her deceased father’s home in Los Angeles, Alice is lonely, depressed and confused. Joining her in that journey of loss are her two daughters Isabel (Lola Flanery) and Rosie (Eden Grace Redfield).
On her fortieth birthday, Alice joins her two friends in a celebration which quickly includes three young filmmakers, Harry (Pico Alexander), Teddy (Nat Wolf) and George (Jon Rudnitsky). All in their late twenties, they are charmed by Alice’s beauty and the romance begins. We won’t spoil how the romance develops except to say that it is fairly predictable.
The plot intensifies when Alice’s estranged husband discovers that these three young men have become involved in his wife and daughters’ lives and, though he had not been motivated to move to LA before, he suddenly decides to do so. Austen’s arrival brings everything to a head.
The moral decisions and solutions suggested at the end of the tale reflect the deep desire for family that Alice, her daughters and the young men share. However, the solutions presented are more wishful thinking than a realistic solution in which life-long relationships provide a place of belonging and the support this creates. This story may work in the world of romantic comedies, but it would be troubling in the world of actual relationships.
- In a world where families break-up, the longing to find a replacement often leaves us vulnerable. How do you think Alice’s vulnerability causes her to be open to Harry’s advances?
- It is easy to want every story to have a happy ending, but do you think this ending provides a true solution? The final scene around the table was a feel-good moment, but what do you think happens in all of their lives in the days ahead?
- In real life, Pico Alexander is 26 and Reese Witherspoon is 41. What would be the realistic struggles of a relationship with that age difference?