Archive for the ‘Reviews '01’ Category

“Life as a House” Movie Review- 2001

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

This is not a subtle film - the title gives away the story, and the script takes many too-predictable turns. Yet despite the lack of surprises, “Life as a House” is indeed a powerful, emotionally charged film that knocks you over the head with its solid acting, its skillful manipulation of our emotions, and moments of pure inspiration that cut right to the very heart of the film’s dysfunctional family.

Kevin Kline is being mentioned as a potential Oscar nominee for his riveting performance as the aging architect, George Monroe. George is divorced, estranged from his only child, and stuck for 20 years in a job he despises. George’s adamant refusal to move into the computer age leaves his boss no choice but to fire him - giving him six months of severance pay and not much else. To make matters worse, while leaving the office for the last time, George passes out, awakening in a hospital with a diagnosis of terminal cancer.

From these life-altering events, George has an epiphany. He decides to tear down the ramshackle house his father left to him and mend his relationships with his ex-wife and son, Sam - hence the film’s metaphoric title.

The film can justifiably be criticized for its deliberately blatant attempts to wrench tears from the audience. In the hands of less talented actors, this blatant manipulation would be both depressing and disastrous. With Kevin Kline in the lead, this fine cast keeps the film from becoming maudlin. It’s yet to be seen how Hayden Christensen will handle his role as Anakin Skywalker, but if this film is any indication of what he is capable of, then Christensen has more than proven his ability to transform into a character with many levels.

The female stars - Kristin Scott Thomas, Jena Malone, and Mary Steenburgen - are equally impressive. Thomas’ role as the ex-wife holds the film together and brings life to George’s past and hope to George’s brief future. Steenburgen is funny, sensual, and perfect as the sexy older neighbor who’s hot for teenage boys. Rising young star Jena Malone has the intelligence and appeal to carry off her role without going overboard. As the love interest of Sam, Malone’s character Alyssa must overcome his detachment to life and wrest from him signs of true emotion.

“Life as a House” offers audiences a chance to cry, laugh, and - at times - cringe at its harsh portrayal of a fractured family. The film isn’t for everyone, but it is for moviegoers who enjoy emotional roller coasters.

Overall Grade: B+

Source: Movies. About.Com