Impeccably crafted but dramatically turgid, widescreen family drama "Finding Home" searches in vain for a level emotional foundation to anchor its technical opulence. Mainstream auds who value melodrama over subtlety could respond to bracingly old-fashioned values, and the movie does look gorgeous, indicating fair to decent biz.

Impeccably crafted but dramatically turgid, widescreen family drama “Finding Home” searches in vain for a level emotional foundation to anchor its technical opulence. Mainstream auds who value melodrama over subtlety could respond to bracingly old-fashioned values, and the movie does look gorgeous, indicating fair to decent biz in houses equipped to show off pic’s chief strength and the finding of many homes in ancillary.

Hard-charging Madison Avenue exec Amanda (Lisa Brenner) is shaken to learn of the death of her estranged grandmother Esther (Louise Fletcher), who owned and operated the Cliffs Edge bed-and-breakfast on a spectacularly rugged, remote island off the coast of Maine. Interrupting a budding romance with boss Nick (Johnny Messner), she is persuaded — albeit with strong misgivings — by the inn’s caretaker, Katie (Genevieve Bujold), to return for the first time since her childhood to clear up the estate.

From the moment she arrives on the island, it’s clear something dramatic happened during her childhood that forced her removal by unpleasant mother Grace (Jeannetta Arnette). Fond memories of Esther fight for dominance with a series of jarring flashback remembrances: something about a knife, and blood, and Katie’s nephew, now the caretaker, Dave (Misha Collins).

When Amanda finds out from family lawyer Lester Brownlow (late playwright-actor Jason Miller, in his final appearance) that Esther has left her the hotel, she also struggles with the decision to keep or sell it. The arrival of gal pal Candace (Sherri Saum), her b.f. CJ (Andrew Lukich), Grace and Nick — with nerdy accountant Prescott (Justin Henry) in tow — precipitates a series of confrontations that reveal the truth about what happened and deliver the closure Amanda so desperately needs.

Though earnest to a fault, sincerity of husband-and-wife filmmaking team of director Lawrence David Foldes and producer Victoria Paige Meyerink results in emotionally convenient entertainment in place of honest discovery. The script is laden with distinctly American buzzwords — pic takes just full eight minutes to invoke the word “closure” — and the story’s multiple plot strands and backstories, while admirably ambitious, give proceedings an increasingly rushed feel. Pic’s pacing is disrupted by f/x-laden flashbacks to Amanda’s trauma, which seem lifted from a horror pic.

Too much of the acting has the mannered, self-conscious feel of an afternoon sudser. Fletcher has the right nurturing tone for the piece, even as she’s trapped in the flashbacks. Bujold floats above it all in yet another perf oozing benevolent wisdom and compassionate tolerance. Miller, star of “The Exorcist,” is fine in his few scenes (his death of a heart attack in May 2001 indicates length of pic’s post-production). The younger talent fares less successfully, with few of the vets’ nuanced, patient characterizations (that’s Oscar-nommed “Kramer vs. Kramer” moppet Henry seen briefly as Prescott).

Pic is stunning — Jeffrey Seckendorf’s burnished lensing shows the spectacular Deer Isle location in the best possible light. While plenteous, digital effects seem gratuitous, and Joseph Conlan’s score is intrusive and heavy-handed, as befits the story.

Finding Home

Production

A Clear Star Pictures production. (International sales: Clear Star Pictures, Hollywood.) Produced by Victoria Paige Meyerink. Directed by Lawrence David Foldes. Screenplay, Foldes, Grafton S. Harper.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Jeffrey Seckendorf; editor, Todd Ramsay; music, Joseph Conlan; production designer, Nick Ralbovsky; costume designer, Jane Anderson; sound (Dolby Digital), Mark Berger; visual effects supervisor, Cosmas Paul Bolger Jr. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (Cinema of the Americas -- U.S.A.), Aug. 29, 2003. Running time: 124 MIN. With:Lisa Brenner, Genevieve Bujold, Louise Fletcher, Jeannetta Arnette, Misha Collins, Sherri Saum, Johnny Messner, Justin Henry, Jason Miller, Andrew Lukich.

With

Lisa Brenner, Genevieve Bujold, Louise Fletcher, Jeannetta Arnette, Misha Collins, Sherri Saum, Johnny Messner, Justin Henry, Jason Miller, Andrew Lukich.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more
Post A Comment 0