Director: Hallie Meyers-Shyer
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Michael Sheen, Candice Bergen
Watch Home Again online in the UK: Netflix UK / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play / Rakuten TV / Sky Store
Every month, we highlight films directed by women on Netflix UK. We call it Women on Netflix.
Home Again follows newly single Alice (Reese Witherspoon) and her two young daughters (both just the right mix of cute and wise beyond their years to avoid coming across as annoying), who, after getting very drunk on her 40th birthday, decides to invite three young filmmakers to live with her. As Harry (Pico Alexander), George (Jon Rudnitsky) and Teddy (Nat Wolff) make themselves at home, bonding with her children, helping out around the house and all seeming to fall in love with Alice to some extent, everything seems to be going well. Until her ex-husband, Austen (Michael Sheen, who tries his very hardest to make his character likeable, but unfortunately fails), arrives looking for a reconciliation and clashes with the three young men.
The main flaw with Home Again is simply that nothing really happens and the stakes never feel particularly high. If your characters are interesting enough, you can sometimes get away with this, but in this case, we never even attempt to go much further than their initial impressions. Alice is never much more than the slightly neurotic, slightly depressed single mother who secretly likes to let her hair down. Harry is never more than the confident, smooth-talking leader, his characterisation really not going much further than him continuously asking if he looks worried, making him essentially just a walking set of dimples and good hair. George and Teddy seem to have slightly more personality – Teddy especially, which is probably helped by Nat Wolff’s natural puppy-dog charm – but we don’t get to spend enough time with them. It almost feels like this was meant to be a sitcom, and it probably would have worked better in that format, as the audience does feel like they need a little bit of extra time with the characters. There is the odd funny moment, but never anything to raise more than a small laugh, which seems like a disappointing disservice to Witherspoon’s talent.
This is Meyers-Shyer’s directorial debut and, unfortunately, it comes across as very safe. It’s encouraging to see the gender-swapped May-December relationship between Alice and Harry but it would have been good to explore it more, as there is chemistry between the two just waiting to be developed. It’s also worth noting that the film does feel very much like its been filmed from the female gaze. Apart from one yoga scene, there are no lingering shots of Alice to make sure the audience knows that even though she’s 40, she’s still got it; in fact, the only character we’re really invited to appreciate aesthetically is Harry, which is a nice reversal on the standard rom-com. Home Again has a talented and likeable cast, and there’s nothing particularly bad about it, there’s just nothing particularly memorable about it either. With a few more risks from Meyers-Shyer, Home Again could have been a solid addition to the archives, but as it is, it seems it will leave nothing more than a fleeting impression, before being forgotten.
Home Again is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.
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