It doesn’t get more sweet or charming than Reese Witherspoon’s performance in Home Again, a delightful romantic comedy that shows how a little spontaneity can change your life for the better and that sometimes the presence of strangers and the power of home can really make all the difference.
Facing a crisis with her 40th birthday, newly separated mother of two Alice Kinney (Witherspoon), returns to the home of her late father, a revered film director, and tries to begin her life again in Hollywood, California. But with an absent husband, the mounting stress of a new and difficult career, and suddenly entering middle age Alice doesn’t really know how to cope. That is until three delightful young men come into her life and help her and her family learn what living is all about.
Director Hallie Meyers-Shyer follows in the footsteps of her esteemed directing parents, Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer, with her directing debut and crafts what I believe is one of the most wholesome and enjoyable films of the year. With crackling dialogue and plenty of real-world drama, Meyers-Shyer takes real life and puts it up on screen. Her characters are realistic and the dramas that they are dealing with are completely plausible, and she spins a great story about a modern woman trying to reinvent herself in a city that prides itself on fakeness and celebrity.
Credit must be given to Reese Witherspoon who continues on her solid role of hits lately including the likes of Big Little Lies. I loved how believable she made her character of Alice, a woman who finds herself in a personal crisis. And that crisis is what to do when your husband decides to quit on you and your children. But Alice is courageous and along with starting her own interior design business also makes one hell of a great mum, and it’s not only her own children who receive the benefits of this, but also her three young houseguests. I loved how natural Witherspoon was in the part, and as an audience member, I just felt that she was having fun in the role.
Starring alongside Witherspoon are three young actors who bring charm, fun and a little bit of crazy into her life. There’s Harry (Pico Alexander), the romantic, George (Jon Rudnitsky), the sensitive realist and Teddy (Nat Wolff), the big brother. All three of these young men come into Alice’s life and jazz it up a bit. The three are aspiring filmmakers who have landed themselves a development deal, and with nothing to their name come into contact with her and find themselves living in her guest house. But not opting for a free ride they all pitch in and help her to discover just how amazing her life is. One of my favourite scenes was when the three boys, along with Alice’s two daughters surprise her with a special outdoor screening of her father’s old movies. It’s such a sentimental and heartfelt moment and really clarified how the people in our lives are what makes it rich and that you can never look past the small sentimental things in life. While the boys, of course, have their own dramas they ultimately make Alice’s life a far richer one.
You also can’t look past the gorgeous location of the film’s SoCal setting and the importance that art and filmmaking have on the film’s plot. Much of the film’s background is derived from Alice’s father, John Kinney, status as a legendary filmmaker. Kinney is likened to a Francis Ford Coppola figure and even though he is never seen on film, having died years earlier in the film’s narrative, his presence, and his generations presence, which he represents, is felt throughout it. With Home Again Meyers-Shyer recalls the laid-back innocence of the 1970s and the great masterworks of that period such as Annie Hall, Love Story and The Sting. There was an innocence and carefree attitude that defined that decade, she brings this into Home Again, showing what we essentially miss in our all-together hectic world.
Simple, sweet and packed full of love, Home Again, is a quaint little rom-com that clarifies how it is the people in our lives that really make us who we are, and that while it can be difficult to reinvent yourself….it’s damn sure rewarding to give it a go.
Image: EOne Films