Published Mar 21, 2013It can be tempting to forgive a movie its shortcomings when its intentions are clearly noble, but Home Again is a reminder that no film can succeed on virtuousness alone. A strained and lumbering look at a group of deportees in Jamaica who struggle to adjust to a country they've barely known, Home Again hammers its message home in an overbearing fashion that ultimately only weakens the blow.
The three disparate stories involve Marva (Tatyana Ali), a Canadian woman forced to leave behind her two kids in Toronto; Dunston (Lyriq Bent), an ex-con from NYC with connections to the drug trade in Jamaica; and Everton (Stephan James), a Brit who quickly finds himself struggling to keep afloat on the mean Trenchtown streets. All the while, there are helpful subtitles to keep the viewer from having to decipher some of the more elaborate patois.
The trio faces a number of obstacles in trying to acclimate to their new environment, from navigating potential love interests to fighting off sexually abusive relatives. While these are sometimes believable complications that might be legitimately experienced by such strangers in a strange land, it often feels more as if they were instead mere contrivances carefully thrown into the machinations of the plot.
It should come as no surprise that these lives would intersect, given the requirements of what has now become a genre unto itself, in the wake of films like Traffic and Crash. This must be the first time, however, where rather than their paths randomly crossing in some meaningful climactic moment, two characters simply run into each other at a mall and we discover that they're third cousins by marriage.
There are individual scenes and performances that occasionally elevate sections, helped along by the lovingly captured Kingston flavour. But where Bent exudes a natural charisma, Ali shows her acting hasn't progressed much beyond movie-of-the-week emoting since her days on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. And the less said about singer Fefe Dobson's disposable role and dubious accent the better.
It's hard to fault director Sudz Sutherland (Love, Sex and Eating The Bones) and co-writer Jennifer Holness for wanting to illuminate how stringent deportation laws have made things increasingly difficult for petty criminals.
Even when attempting to convey something from an honest and honourable place though, it's still possible to create a work that doesn't quite manage to come across as genuine. (eOne)