Sunday, March 1, 2015

Home for the Holidays

Movie Name: Home for the Holidays
Year of Release: 1995
Director: Jodie Foster
Stars: Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr., Anne Bancroft, Dylan McDermott, Claire Danes, Charles Durning, Geraldine Chaplin, Cynthia Stevenson, Steve Guttenberg, Austin Pendleton, Amy Yasbeck, David Strathairn, Emily Ann Lloyd
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7

"Home for the Holidays" was Jodie Foster's second feature, following the fantastic "Little Man Tate", which premiered in 1991 (the year of her big success with Jonathan Demme's "Silence of the Lambs"). "Home for the Holidays" is an adaptation of a short story by Chris Radant, and follows the story of Claudia Larson, a young single mother, who travels home for Thanksgiving dinner on the same day she's laid off from her job. Claudia has a colorful family life, particularly antagonizing with her older sister Joanne, who is adamant in controlling their parents life (besides controlling her own family's life). The catalyst for the succession of discord occurs when Claudia's younger brother, Tommy shows up with a colleague from work, Leo, who starts flirting with Claudia. Tommy and Joanne are particularly antagonistic of each other, since Tommy is gay and has partner and Joanne and her husband are both quite homophobic. All these forces come to a halt during Thanksgiving dinner.
Jodie Foster's work as a director has focused thus far in the intricacies of family life, and how different people build different family relationships. That was the case of "Little Man Tate, and also of her third feature, "The Beaver". "Home for the Holidays" features an eclectic and fantastic cast to bring to life the dynamics of a Midwestern family, where the children have moved on and grown up to be very different individuals with different career paths and life choices, which for some are difficult to understand, but in the end, that's what makes them equally interesting. Jodie Foster successfully creates this air of complicity, camaraderie and also antagonism between these family members. The cast is fantastic, with the always excellent Holley Hunter and Anne Bancroft creating strong characters. The supporting cast is equally diverse, with Cynthia Stevenson and Geraldine Chaplin creating equally indelible characters. A very good film from a director who's started to show a very interesting universe of her own.