Monday, July 15, 2013

Jono Oliver's Touching Drama HOME


Written and directed by Jono Oliver
Starring Gbenga Akinnagbe
Drama, USA
Rating  3.5/5

Jono Oliver’s Home is a heartfelt and well-made look into the life of a mentally ill man living in a Brooklyn group home.  He has made progress in managing his problems to improve his life but also in order to move out and reconnect with his young son.  He feels desperate to make it work because his son is growing up without knowing him and he wants to be there for him, a good father and friend.  It sounds like a tough slog but Oliver’s light touch and universally recognisable situations and emotions won this critic over.
How does a man who is once a mental patient and always tarred with that brush, convince his social workers and his family that he is well enough to move into his own apartment and care for himself?  It’s a question of trust and clear eyed concern.  He had a meltdown that resulted in violence and isolation; it seems to be all people remember about him and dictates their responses.

Jack is deemed almost ready to move out of the home but a new manager takes over who doesn’t know him and the progress he’s made.  His carelessness could cost Jack his pass and it’s tragic as Jack is trying hard to make it work.   He’s created an expense sheet, a personal fact sheet and is learning to do the things a person would do to prepare for moving into an apartment.  Jack wears a suit and tie each day for his job as a messenger; he is respectful, reliable and controls his temper. 
The film’s intimacy draws us to Jack and his struggles.  We are completely invested in his success, all the while concerned that his past will stand up and slap him.  If the filmmakers hadn’t done such a good job, it would have been a different story but they did and the result is fresh, active, moving and rewarding.
A well-crafted script, supple direction and the terrific work of actor Gbenga Akinnagbe give it life.  He gives Jack intelligence but lets us know he’s prone to hopelessness and confusion.   It’s a great performance that brings heart and soul to a character we don’t often see in the movies, let alone as the lead.   Home also stars Tawny Cypress, Danny Hoch, James McDaniel, KK Moggie and Joe Morton.    

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