There is so much that is wrong and yet so much that is strong, in Home, writer-director Rojin Thomas’ heart-warming eccentric but deeply humane film about a family of fractured relationships and how it, the family, finally finds its centre. Nothing new here, thank God for that! It is the comfort of the familiar that makes this artless cannily connectible family saga, so winsome and appreciable. Home is baggily structured with loose ends sticking out of the final product like limbs out of the clumsily-tailored suit. But that, I soon realized, is the innate charm of this majestically askew family drama which is utterly devoid of an even pacing or any sense bearing.
Some portions trot along fine, while other chapters heave and groan to a staccato momentum making the entire proceeding look unmapped, unplanned. In the beginning we meet the protagonist Oliver Twist—yes that’s his name because we eventually, find out, his father used to peruse a lot of English literature during his heydays—is struggling with a sense of self, trying to find some ways to make himself feel useful to family and self after his video-library business turned defunct.
For actor Indrans, this is not uncharted territory. Just a few weeks ago, I saw him playing a father pining for his son’s attention in elukkakka Oppu Kaa in a rigorously rural realm. Here it’s the pitiless heartless city, and the addictive cell phone dividing father from son.
Sreenath Basi as Oliver’s elder son Anthony communicates the benign contempt of an impatient son with a wonderful economy of words and expressions. Indrans and Basi play against one another with intuitive suppleness. I wish the narrative focused on the father-son pair trying to repair their relationship instead of running helter-skelter introducing us to irrelevant characters, like Anthony’s girlfriend’s uncle Justin, who just drops in to the plot for no rhyme or reason and makes himself at home.
Writer-director Rojin Thomas seems eager to latch a legion of characters on Oliver Twist’s life (by the way, he had a sister named Mary Poppins who passed away, we are told in passing). Some of the baggage is borne with grace by the unwieldy plot. Others, like a lengthy languorous completely pointless interlude with a psychologist and a rather bitter-sweet run in with a movie star(Dev Mohan) just doesn’t fit in. The biggest pace-breaker is when Oliver goes to the psychologist for insomnia. But the encounter is somnolent, and should be edited out of an otherwise-remarkable film.
What works wonderfully are the scenes of domestic stress. Oliver trying to get his beloved son’s attention, his face lighting up when the son looks at him…Oliver offering unsolicited gyan to the son, taking direct insults from the boy…It’s the price a parent pays for caring for his child.
At the climax, an extraordinary incident from Oliver’s adolescence returns to haunt the plot. It is an outrageous co-incidence, and one that would normally have reduced the impact and merit of the film drastically. But Home is very special film. It earns itself some major concessions from cinematic protocol. We forgive the sluggish loose-limbed pace because, well, life’s like that. It doesn’t follow any specific rhythm and movement. Most of the time we are nursing small splinters of our broken heart. Just like Oliver Twist, the original “Dil maange more” guy. Porridge or providence, we are always searching for something more than what destiny doles out. Just like Oliver in Home.
The film is littered with believable performances, though I found Manju Pillai as Oliver Twist’s wife a little too over the top. What the Dickens!
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