TIFF 2016: Home Review

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Belgian director Fien Troch’s Home showcases, for a brief period of time, the day-to-day lives of three troubled teens: Kevin, Sammy, and John. The handheld shooting style and relatively loose plot lend themselves to an authentic lived experience that will make you sympathize with these teens as they grow up far too fast.

Kevin has returned from a stint in juvie for beating up another boy. As he tells his cousin, Sammy, when he gets mad, he just loses it. He’s staying at Sammy’s house because his own parents are wary of him. Kevin and Sammy have a friend named John who always wants to sleep over, but Sammy’s mother, Sonja, consistently refuses.

The actors who play the boys as well as the actors who play their parents deserve accolades. The parents are fallible creatures and their moral compasses are a bit skewed. In addition an abusive, manipulative control freak of a mother, we also have Sammy’s parents: mom is always eager to be doing some housewife-like duty and is ever-so keen to help – yet, she has her blind spots, especially with the abuse that John faces. Dad runs a plumbing company and has hired Kevin to be his apprentice – but his affection is certainly not unconditional.

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The film hits home when it shows first-hand that the boys don’t have a true home in the sense of the word. There’s no place the boys feel truly safe. Interludes where the activities of other teens are shown highlight the fact that the teens face relentless pressure to conform and to perform according to what others dictate. Even for Kevin, his shelter at his aunt and uncle’s is fleeting, temporary, as his aunt is quick to remind him whenever Kevin steps out of line.

Love should be unconditional and not in the shadow of a threat of estrangement and alienation. The film challenges us to look after the next generation better than the boys’ parents have.

Screening: 

Friday Sept. 16, 6:15pm @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

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Michael McNeely is a deaf-blind film critic and advocate for greater accessibility in our cinemas. Read more about his story here.

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