Writer/director Peter Livolsi’s directorial debut “The House of Tomorrow,” adapted from Peter Bognanni’s novel, uses the philosophy and beliefs of architect, designer, inventor and geodesic dome enthusiast Buckminster Fuller as the backdrop of a coming-of-age story soundtracked to classic punk.
Sebastian (Asa Butterfield) has been living a sheltered life with his grandmother, Josephine (Ellen Burstyn), at a Minnesota geodesic dome house, where he maintains the property and gives tours introducing visitors to Fuller’s work. He’s an under-socialized teen whose life is turned upside down by the arrival of a church youth group, brimming with the promise of friendship, sex and punk rock, in the form of the misanthropic Jared (Alex Wolff) and his sister Meredith (Maude Apatow)
It only takes half of a song by the Germs to blow Sebastian’s world wide open, and soon he’s sneaking off to form a band with the sickly, snarky Jared, who is fiercely monitored by his fanny-pack sporting father, Alan (an excellent Nick Offerman). Butterfield and Wolff have a charming, odd-couple chemistry as the awkward Sebastian and rebellious Jared, both boys straining against their overprotective parents.
For most of the film, the Buckminster Fuller story just seems like a quirky backdrop to explain Sebastian’s sheltered upbringing. It’s far more a film about music and growing up than it is about Fuller’s work. It’s not until the end that everything truly lines up, with Fuller positioned as an original punk. But as a film about punk rock, living on the edge and coming into your own, “The House of Tomorrow” is a strong debut from Livolsi.
‘The House of Tomorrow’
Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena; Laemmle Noho 7, North Hollywood