Home is never inspiring or sentimental. Writer-director Oliver lets sentimentality graze the film graze once–and it’s a film about sympathetic mental patients reintegrating so it’s amazing he was able to get away with a sidewalk picnic without sentimentality–but the realities of the characters quickly reign in any loose tender particles.
The film concerns Gbenga Akinnagbe and his last two week and a half weeks in a New York mental hospital. He’s trying to get an apartment so he can be discharged (hence the title). Even though Akinnagbe has a goal and a set time frame, Oliver takes Home a lot of different places. The script takes its time fully realizing Akinnagbe’s character; the subplots almost seem independent of the narrative’s time limit. They move on deeper layers.
The film’s supporting performances are all stellar. Oliver makes sure all of his cast takes the time to listen–or, at the right time, interrupt–but also to think. Exceptional supporting work from Victor Williams, Frank Harts, Danny Hoch and Judah Bellamy.
Of course, while Oliver’s direction is phenomenal (the composition is quietly stunning and precise) and the film has excellent photography from Sung Rae Cho–Ulysses Guidotti’s editing is singular–none of it would work without Akinnagbe. Home starts with a narrative disruption; Oliver takes a long time to establish the ground situation, which is disorienting. The film relies on Akinnagbe’s character to navigate, even after it reveals Akinnagbe isn’t necessarily the most reliable navigator.
Home’s a striking success.
Written and directed by Jono Oliver; director of photography, Sung Rae Cho; edited by Ulysses Guidotti; music by Gingger Shankar; production designer, Eric Oliver; produced by Daniela Barbosa and Ged Dickersin; released by Entertainment One.
Starring Gbenga Akinnagbe (Jack Hall), Danny Hoch (Dundee), Joe Morton (Donald Hall), K.K. Moggie (Denise), Tawny Cypress (Laura), Victor Williams (Hamilton), Isiah Whitlock Jr. (Samuel), Tonya Pinkins (Esmin), Elena Hurst (Melissa), Frank Harts (Smitty), Adrian Martinez (Hector), Eddie R. Brown III (Travis), Alexander Flores (Thomas), Nick Choksi (Max), Deborah Offner (Sondra), Theo Stockman (Charles), Marilyn Torres (Viveca), Venida Evans (Ginnie), Ananias Dixon (Leo), Judah Bellamy (John) and James McDaniel (Dr. Parker).