“Home” is one’s defense against the outside world. But what is the upshot when “home,” including spouse and children, becomes one’s whole world? Michel (Oliver Gourmet, giving the best performance) and Marthe (Isabelle Huppert, fluent and fragile, if less complicated than usual—best actress, Mar del Plata) are long settled into their happy marriage, “apart from the world” in a rural setting, along with their two teenaged daughters, young son, and cat. They are liberal parents, and the whole family seems to be without hangups in their family adventure under a roof. But things change. Michel starts raging when the abandoned highway adjacent to their modest Swiss paradise is rebuilt and reopened, flooding their refuge with din, dust and alienation. Now there is heavy traffic endangering the lives of their children when they are coming home from school. Marthe calms Michel, but it is she who eventually goes into a psychotic tailspin. One of the girls has already just left “home” behind.
Although it somewhat peters out as it pursues a pat conclusion, this is a mostly terrific movie. The premise fascinates. After all, for as long as the couple can recall, the highway’s re-opening has been threatened/promised, although their inwardly drawn focus on family, not to mention the European Union’s slowness in plowing through its agenda of things to do, has lulled them into a false sense of security that things would continue as they are. Life is change, however, and one—even couples—must adjust, adapt. Families disintegrate.
Ursula Meier has humorously and patiently directed from her own fine script, to which Antoine Jaccoud, Raphaëlle Valbrune, Gilles Taurand, Olivier Lorelle and Alice Winocour also contributed.
Best script, best film, Swiss Film Awards. Home—that’s the name of it—is from Switzerland, Belgium and France.
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