DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Film Review (DVD): Life as a House

"Extra cheese on your burger son?"


Life as a House
Dir. Irwin Winkler

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Now don’t get me wrong, weepy movies are not generally my ‘cup of tea’ but Life as a House floored me like sledgehammer to the face. On the surface this is another one of those ‘life affirming’ tales where this guy (Kevin Kline) gets cancer and spends his last few months rebuilding his relationship with his estranged and F.U.B.A.R. son (Hayden Christensen)…

What set this apart for me was the fact that my dad (John Adcock) died of cancer over ten years ago – and he never got the chance to see if I’d outgrow the teenage stupidity that I was exhibiting so much of… He was a fantastic father who always had time for me, made me feel like the centre of the universe and sweated blood to provide for us. Now, all I can do is be the best dad I can for my boys and hope that they’ll love me as much I loved him…

Anyway, the film is about love, hurt, hope and reconciliation – as much as it is about a guy building the house he’s always dreamt of. Kline is just excellent and for once I didn’t hate Hayden ‘Vader Wannabe’ Christensen either, which was a plus. Jena Malone is also extremely cute (how can you not love that girl – she gets to jump into the shower with Christensen and kiss his dad “just to see what it’s like”)…
The story is well directed and Kline really nailed the depiction of a father who is losing everything but determined to go out having done all he could to help his family.

Yes it’s cheesier than a triple cheeseburger with extra cheese – but somehow it works and I really enjoyed it…

Darkmatt Rating: öööö (good)



Click here for Matt Adcock's: Film Review Index

2 comments:

Dan Dorman said...

You are correct, sir. I'll even go a step further: Winkler made an incredibly subtle and moving little film that has touched the (few) people who have seen it more often than not. There is an art form to making these soapy tear-jerkers (thanks to directors like James L. Brooks and Winkler) - but fortunatley, Life as a House manages to steer clear of vacuous "three-hanky territory" by staying true to it's characters and to it's emotional core. I was upset when Kline did not get a nomination for this film. His was one of the best performances of the year. This was also one of the films that proved to me that it may just be George Lucas who ruins young actors - since Hayden Christiansen was wonderful as the wayward teen in House (he was also Oscar-worthy in Shattered Glass, one of my top favorite films in recent memory). There is a scene in House where he stands outside of his father's hospital room and he has to make an internal choice. It is a very qiuck moment in the film, but Christiansen handled it with such professional accuracy, that I had to tip my hat to the young padawan. There is also a moment in the film where he watches his parents (who are separated) dancing inside the foundation of the "house" of the title. The song that plays during this moment is so perfect, I even get misty-eyed replaying the scene in my mind. Oh God, now I need to go find the kleenex...but seriously, it was a perfect moment in an almost perfect film - and one that deserves a better reputation. Winkler also directed Kline in De-Lovely. I have not seen this film yet (I'm building up to it since the soundtrack full of modern singers obliterating Porter songs makes me vomit) but the scenes I have watched with Kline (as Cole Porter) were mind-blowing. Love Kline (he's also cool as shit in real-life), gotta go - until next time...

rach said...

I found this film really hard to place. It sits so well as another "cheesy girl film that you can just watch on an evening without having to think about it much" and yet as you say, it just kind of grabs you emotionally and doesn't let go.

Have to say I think it was under-rated when it came out.

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