There’s something to be said for ‘pleasant’ cinema. That is, a film not necessarily burdened with ambition or any especially unique narrative yet one which, by virtue of its characters, sense of humour and some strong emotional connection, rises above its premise. Maximilian Hult’s Home is a film in that vein, a dramedy that follows the intersection of four characters at crossroads in their lives – an old woman mourning the death of her husband, her granddaughter, who suffers (presumably) from a form of Asperger’s syndrome, a young boy regularly bullied at school and a local man, searching for love. The film itself isn’t particularly intricate, most of the plot points are telegraphed in advance and it doesn’t explore any one issue in depth, merely content to glance at a few – death, love, purpose in life et al. However, despite its simplicity, it is successful at engaging emotionally and for a film of this ilk, that counts for a lot.
For the most part films that use social anxiety or a mild social disorder as a main character trait tend to limit characterisation to the point of insensitivity, rendering a person merely the embodiment of a condition. As Lou, Moa Gammel manages to not only effectively depict a young woman who is living with these issues but also a character who has been sheltered their whole life from the notion of happiness. It’s not merely physical traits but close ups on Lou’s face that reveal her emotional responses and, as the film progresses, she comes into her own both in character and acting performance. This is assisted, of course, by the interactions with the other three protagonists. Frida, the grandmother played by Anita Wall, and Tom, the schoolboy played by Erik Lundqvist, bring most of the humour in the film and their narrative is bittersweet – despite the aims to help Tom feel better about himself there’s the notion that this boy is a replacement for her husband with regards to dependency. Though this element of the plot isn’t explored much more than the superficial, it still manages to work in the grand scheme of things.
The love story, between Lou and local musicial Henrik (Simon J. Berger), acts both as a vehicle for characterisation and also a really pleasant narrative strand. It does feel somewhat rushed as it runs into the final half hour of the film and the actual sense of attraction between them seems more structural than organic – she’s the only woman his age in town, he’s the only person to ever actually pursue her – yet it manages to be engaging and, for lack of a better term, very cute.
The cinematography is mostly nice, albeit without many striking sequences. The costume design, by Arndís Ey Eiríksdóttir, should be praised, Lou’s usage of the colour blue in her clothing adds a subtle layer of characterisation – not only does it link with a notion of comfort in repetition, it also invites the notion that subconsciously it’s a link to the seaside, where she lived as a child. The film’s musical score, provided by Hans Lundgren, also adds to the general feel of the film, it is pleasant and often bittersweet, a tone that the film aims to capture throughout. The usage of repetition through objects and routine is an interesting paradox in that it reinforces stasis yet often involves co-dependency; the humorous way in which Tom drinks whatever Frida does (from coffee to Campari) acts as both a visual joke but also a deeper yearning for connection from both of them.
The film seems like it is geared to be a crowd-pleaser, perhaps a very apt choice for the Scandanavian Film Festival here in Sydney. The film is warm and funny, it depicts somewhat universal themes in a somewhat odd collection of scenes and its characters, whilst often one note, manage to charm.