Rating — 2.5/5
Somewhere within the almost ninety minute long A Sort of Homecoming lies a very well crafted short film, I believe. Something about a return to roots, the tension of confrontation and remembering / reconciling the past with the present. Some kind of tightly wound story about tightly wound people deserves a tightly wound (and concise) movie.
As it stands, the feature length A Sort of Homecoming drags at best and drowns at worst. For the faithful Louisiana audience, its setting and treatment of New Orleans goes beyond pleasant nostalgia, and into pandering at times. For the LifeTime TV fans, its use of dramatic obstacles never feels finite or engaging, merely a tool of exposition to get from one scene to the next. For the filmmaking crowd, there are a handful of awkward transitions and strange / abrupt edits that will make you scoff.
For me, it was all rather unfortunate. However…
laura marano’s performance, and the overall earnestness, effort and drive of the filmmakers stayed in my heart long after viewing. It’s not uncommon to technically fault something you actually enjoyed, if that something was genuine. Beneath the wafting cheese of its kleenex grabbing drama, A Sort of Homecoming is an honest and universal film of inner anxiety and long affecting consequences.
Whenever the voiceover monologues take you out with their parody like sound, Laura brings you back in with her youthful gaze, cautious optimism and potential for personal strife. Whenever the movie deals another overly dramatic hand, it reaches out with a surprise full of life and possibility. Whenever the soundtrack plays an out of place zydeco or regional track — shoehorned in or not — it reminds you of a time gone by, and places you in a movie of your own memories.
It’s an easy guess, but I’d be willing to bet that, for the writer and director, A Sort of Homecoming came from a very personal place. Maybe. It should go in the movie’s favor to how relatable it can be. How relatable Laura Marano’s acting is. How relatable the setting is, whether you’ve lived in or near those areas or not. Timeless and universal, I’d be more than happy to call it.
Stretched past its limit and too much drama for the sake of drama, it’s a film that could’ve used another round in the editing booth. As a feature, it struggles. As a short, it’d thrive. As it stands, it’s an exercise in sweetness. Exercise. Sweets. Two words that shouldn’t go together. Sort of. A Sort of Homecoming has a racing mind with a good heart. And the heart can keep up with its mind.
Bill Arceneaux is an independent film critic from New Orleans and a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association.