Lawrence David Foldes' "Finding Home" in form is much like a romance novel or a vintage "women's film," but the depth of feeling and clear commitment of Foldes and his colleagues give it real dimension as a parable on the dangers of irresponsible relationships between men and women and, most important, the need to express forgiveness before it's too late. The film, shot in Super 35 and CinemaScope in glorious natural locales, is permeated by a sense of life's fragility and transitoriness.
Lovely, poised Amanda (Lisa Brenner) is a hard-working Madison Avenue ad agency exec, on the brink of an affair with her slick and domineering boss, Nick (Johnny Messner), and feeling guilty over forever postponing a visit to her grandmother Esther (Louise Fletcher), who runs a Victorian inn on an island in Maine. Only recently has she been able to reestablish contact with Esther, for Amanda's icy, rigid mother, Grace (Jeannetta Arnette), departed from the island angrily with her daughter in tow when she was only 11. The child was inexplicably forbidden to have contact with her grandmother, and Lisa suffers from largely repressed and confusing memories over something to do with a knife. These fragmented memories and their ultimate clarity are expressed succinctly and powerfully, making Lisa's trauma all the more credible.
Not surprisingly, Amanda puts off the visit too long, and her return is for Esther's funeral. Although bothered by her murky memories, Amanda experiences the warmth of home, a feeling reinforced by Katie (Genvieve Bujold), a French Canadian widow who was her grandmother's friend and assistant. While Katie embodies all that is inviting and secure about the worn but embracing inn, she does not try to influence Amanda on whether to keep or sell it. Helping Katie maintain it is her nephew Dave (Misha Collins), who seems to have carried a torch for Amanda since their childhood yet who unaccountably unsettles her.
Gradually secrets start tumbling out, and a crucial predicament for Amanda's best friend and co-worker, Candace (Sherri Saum), echoes and reinforces all the issues Amanda needs to sort out. Even though much in "Finding Home" turns upon romances past and present and their ultimate rather neat resolution, the film is a carefully thought-out psychological drama.
Bujold anchors the film and brings to it a crucial sense of multiple levels. She and Fletcher, although seen only in flashbacks as Esther, lend crucial support to Brenner, as do others. There's more to "Finding Home" than may meet the eye.
MPAA rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic issues, sexual content and some violence.
Times guidelines: Complex adult themes.
A Clear Star Pictures and Star Entertainment Group release. Director Lawrence David Foldes. Producer Victoria Paige Meyerink. Executive producer Robert F. Fleischmann. Screenplay by Foldes and Grafton S. Harper from a story by Foldes, Harper, Steven Zambo and David Ruprecht. Cinematographer Jeffrey Seckendorf. Editor Todd Ramsay. Music Joseph Conlan. Costumes Jane Anderson. Art director Sebastian Hernandez. Set decorator Vanessa Couron. Running time: 2 hours, 4 minutes.
At selected theaters.