×

Welcome Home

Belgian writer-director Tom Heene's impressive debut feature "Welcome Home" cannily combines abstract modernism with emotional intensity to deliver a unique snapshot of people and places in flux.

With:
With: Manah Depauw, Karl Vandendriessche, Nader Farman, Filipe Mafasoli. (French, English, Dutch dialogue)

Belgian writer-director Tom Heene’s impressive debut feature, “Welcome Home,” cannily combines abstract modernism with emotional intensity to deliver a unique snapshot of people and places in flux. Originally conceived as a three-parter tracing a young woman’s fateful homecoming to her native city of Brussels, the pic has been reconfigured to form a single, nonlinear whole, interweaving charged images from different times of the heroine’s day, and intercutting shots of an urban landscape in continual transition with deeply interpersonal exchanges in several languages. “Home” should find an enthusiastic welcome in arthouses globally.

On the bus from the airport, Lila (Manah Depauw) encounters Billal (Nader Farman), a 60-year-old Iranian traveling from Saudi Arabia to Rotterdam, who has stopped off in Brussels to revisit the couple with whom he spent a memorable year as a student 40 years before. Recognizing nothing in the transformed city , he cannot find the house, and Lila offers to join him on his pilgrimage. The Brussels they navigate presents a strange amalgam of new and old, with giant billboards and huge glass buildings that house multinationals standing cheek by jowl with Gothic cathedrals and quaint two-story homes.

Lila’s provocative reunion with her boyfriend, Benji (Kurt Vandendriessche), unleashes a whirlwind of contradictory emotions — love, hate, jealousy, anger, tenderness — as the camera locks onto their faces, and the two lock into one another sexually, making love, war and everything in between in French, Dutch and English. Heene and lenser Frederic Noirhomme excel in infusing their closeups with a psychological physicality that fairly vibrates with tension.

The third narrative thread concerns Bruno (Felipe Mafasoli) at the wheel of a car full of colleagues — young, self-centered “Eurocrats” — out on the town speaking a babble of languages. Though they have spent years in Brussels, they have never really bothered to know the place, existing in a global bubble all their own. Bruno’s confrontational run-ins with Lila on her bicycle, apparently minor skirmishes in the class war, turn out to be the film’s most game-changing encounters.

A conflicted love letter to a city and a woman in constant states of self-renewal, “Welcome Home” marks an impressive directorial debut. Heene’s decision to chop up his narrative, and the rich inventiveness of the resulting reshuffle, gives certain scenes a free-associative resonance that permit sounds heard offscreen in earlier scenes to assume added dimensions when unfolding in an ongoing, time-shifted visual context.

Heene, who worked as production manager on several European features, extends the film’s distinctive look to every technical aspect.

Welcome Home

Belgium

Production: A Minds Meet, La Parti production, in co-production with Stempel, Alea Jacta Postproduction, in cooperation with Flanders Audiovisual Fund, CCA. (International Sales: Minds Meet, Brussels.) Produced by Tomas Leyers. Directed, written by Tom Heene.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Frederic Noirhomme; editor, David Verdurme; music, Peter Lenaerts; art director, Estelle Rullier; costume designer, Geraldine Miesse; sound (Dolby SRD), Jean-Luc Audy; sound designers, Julie Brenta, Benoit Biral, Renaud Guillaumin, Alexander Davidson. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (First Films, competing), Aug. 2, 2012. (Also in Venice Film Festival -- Critics' Week.) Running time: 73 MIN.

With: With: Manah Depauw, Karl Vandendriessche, Nader Farman, Filipe Mafasoli. (French, English, Dutch dialogue)

More Film

  • Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell

    Film Review: 'TINY: The Life of Erin Blackwell'

    “Streetwise,”  the classic and haunting 1984 documentary about homeless street kids in Seattle, is a movie that’s now 35 years old. But for anyone who has seen it, the children it’s about — drifters, hustlers, squatters, thieves, prostitutes — remain frozen in time. And none of them was ever more memorable than Tiny, the 14-year-old [...]

  • Animation Studio Fire

    Revenge Motive May Have Sparked Kyoto Animation Arson Attack

    Japanese media is speculating that revenge was the motivation for the arson attack on Kyoto Animation which killed 33 people on Thursday. Investigative sources quoted by Jiji Press on Friday said that the man in custody had a grudge against the studio. “Since [the studio] stole my novel, I poured out the liquid and set [...]

  • Terminator: Dark Fate Gabriel Luna

    'Terminator: Dark Fate' Cast Proud of Latinx Representation in Latest Installment

    The stars of the Tim Miller-directed “Terminator: Dark Fate” stormed the stage of San Diego Comic-Con’s Hall H on Thursday, but it wasn’t until after the panel — which included appearances from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton — that Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna and Diego Boneta reflected on what makes the upcoming installment in the [...]

  • It

    Producer Sues Warner Bros. Over 'It' Film Adaptations

    A producer who developed the original “It” TV miniseries sued Warner Bros. on Thursday, alleging the studio breached his contract by making the films “It” and “It Chapter Two” without him. Frank Konigsberg and Larry Sanitsky were running Telepictures in the early 1980s when they acquired the rights to the Stephen King novel. They developed [...]

  • Animation Studio Fire

    Kyoto Arson Attack: Animation Community Mourns Colleagues

    Thursday’s deadly attack on Japan’s Kyoto Animation studios left many in the animation community shocked and horrified by the loss of 33 of their colleagues. Another 36 people were injured in the attack, which was Japan’s deadliest ever. A suspect was arrested after pouring a flammable liquid inside the building, which caught fire and trapped [...]

  • Nicolas Cage

    Film News Roundup: Nicolas Cage's '10 Double Zero' Completes Financing

    In today’s film news roundup, financing has been secured for a Nicolas Cage police drama, feature drama “Topside” is unveiled and the late Tom Snyder is getting a tribute from his daughter. FINANCING COMPLETED DCR Finance Corp. has signed a deal to complete the financing for Nicolas Cage’s upcoming crime drama “10 Double Zero.” The [...]

  • Matt Damon and Tom McCarthy Team

    Matt Damon Teams with 'Spotlight' Director Tom McCarthy on New Film (EXCLUSIVE)

    Even as buzz grows for his upcoming race car drama “Ford v. Ferrari,” Matt Damon looks to keep the pedal to the metal: the A-lister is set to star in the Participant Media feature film “Stillwater” with Tom McCarthy directing. Damon attached himself in May, and the package was quickly acquired by Participant, who previously [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content