For the first half of Home, it’s difficult to understand what story the filmmakers are trying to tell. It’s clearly meant to be a teen film, but there’s a lack of direction in the plot that mirrors the experience of adolescence while confusing the audience.
Things start to become clearer as 17 year-old ex-con Kevin (Sebastian Van Dun), and abused John (Mistral Guidotti) gradually form the emotional centre. Both are united by their poor circumstances in life, and the actors do a great job of portraying them as apathetic. Their situations, and the way they endure them with stony silence, generate sympathy. This is needed, as the other teenage characters are portrayed as nihilistically cruel.
Teenage party scenes switch to a phone camera’s perspective rather than the usual headache-inducing handheld style. It feels forced, as if looking at an adults’ idea of what teens would do when they’re by themselves. These segments also highlight another problem with the film as the young girls seem to exist solely to twerk. The only female teenager with a role is Lina. She too is played as apathetic, but the film doesn’t really dig deeper and it’s unclear what her purpose is in the story.
The film does a better job with its matriarchs. John’s mother (Els Deceukelier) is the obvious standout as a mentally damaged woman. The manipulation of her son provides the film with its most uncomfortable moments. Meanwhile, Kevin’s aunt (Karlijn Sileghem) is a fascinating portrait of benign middle-class hypocrisy.
Home’s handheld style eventually causes a headache and doesn’t immerse you in adolescence the way The Class does. Its unfocused plotting, despite being a metaphor for teenagedom, also hurts it. The impassive performances from van Dun and Guidotti, however, rescue the film from mediocrity.
CAST: Jeroen Perceval, Kevin Janssens, Natali Broods
DIRECTOR: Fien Troch
WRITERS: Nico Leunen, Fien Troch
SYNOPSIS: The struggle between two generations and its thin line between trust, friendship and betrayal.