mon 04/07/2022

Home Again review - Reese Witherspoon romcom is divorced from reality | reviews, news & interviews

Home Again review - Reese Witherspoon romcom is divorced from reality

Home Again review - Reese Witherspoon romcom is divorced from reality

Fantasy-land Hollywood frolic is largely DOA

A charming assemblage of performers are left pretty much high and dry by Home Again, an LA-based romcom so determinedly glossy that each frame seems more squeaky-clean and unreal than the next. Intended as a star vehicle for Reese Witherspoon, this debut effort from filmmaker Hallie Meyers-Shyer proves only that the apple can fall reasonably far from the tree.

Whereas her (now-divorced) parents, writer-directors Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer, at least allowed shards of wit and emotion into such luscious property porn landmarks as It's Complicated and Something's Gotta Give, Home Again seems to have had all actual life leeched out of it. One bar into the Carole King song that gives the film its title, and is saved for the very end, and you experience in an instant the gutsiness and the gusto that have gone missing from the movie itself. Home AgainWitherspoon plays Alice, a putative interior decorator who also happens to be the daughter of an Oscar-winning director who has since died: hey, Freudian or what? On the outs from marriage to music biz mogul Austen (Michael Sheen), Alice has scooped up their two daughters and decamped from New York back to LA, where she readjusts nicely to life in the family manse, which happens to come with the kind of guest house that practically cries out to have three male 20somethings calling it home.

How convenient, then, that these three aspirational Hollywood musketeers (pictured above) strike up an acquaintance one night with a forlorn Alice at a bar and before long are crashing out at hers, which in turn paves the way for the tallest and most vacuous-seeming of the trio, Harry (Pico Alexander), to find his way into Alice's bed. Yes, there's a 13-year age difference between the two lovebirds, which Meyers-Shyer's script treats with the gravity you might afford a missile launch from North Korea. But Alice has a genial, apparently cooler-than-cool mum (Candice Bergen, looking especially airbrushed) who sees to it that the lads are able to call their Spanish-style digs home. All's well that ends well, or so you might think, until such time as Austen heads westward to see if he can put his relationship with Alice to rights. (Sheen and Witherspoon, pictured below)Home AgainI'm not sure I know too many women of any age who would so readily allow long-term accommodation gratis to three blokes they met on a boozy night out, but then again, it doesn't hurt that the chaps' collective skills extend beyond the carnal to include the sorts of computer and handyman-related talents on which, I well realise, you really can't put a price. Throughout all this, the two young daughters seem blissfully untraumatised as one after another man hoves into view, Meyers-Shyer stretching to breaking point an ancillary plot point as to whether the sweet-seeming writer George (a genuinely appealing Jon Rudnitsky) will make it to the eldest child's self-penned school play on time. (Between this and Big Little Lies, Witherspoon seems to be drawn of late to celluloid ventures involving theatre: is she hinting at wanting to try some stage work herself?) 

One could imagine the same material in more truly complicated, darker hands: I'd love to see what Todd Haynes, say, might have done with the same scenario. As it is, Witherspoon is likeable as ever in the kind of role that once upon a time would have gone the way of Cameron Diaz, and there's a genuinely hilarious Hamilton joke (as in the musical) that doubtless lands better Stateside than here, at least so far. But while everyone acknowledges that it's not really in the remit of such films to peer too long and hard at the world beyond its privileged portals, Home Again is an especially telling study in insularity: a film steeped in the film world but not for an instant engaged with life. 

Overleaf: watch the trailer for Home Again


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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