Review: ‘A Country Called Home’ is full of dull indie movie cliches

Mackenzie Davis as Reno in the drama "A Country Called Home."

Mackenzie Davis as Reno in the drama “A Country Called Home.”

(Alchemy / Arc Entertainment)

There’s exactly one fascinating, original character in Anna Axster’s well-meaning but bland debut feature, “A Country Called Home.” Unfortunately, the movie’s not about him.

Rising star Mackenzie Davis steals every scene she’s in as Reno, a transgender singer-songwriter who gigs at hostile honky-tonks in and around his small Texas hometown. One night, Reno meets Ellie (Imogen Poots), a struggling Los Angeles furniture-designer who’s flown in to attend her estranged father’s funeral. The outsiders’ fast friendship helps them understand what they want from life.

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But it mostly helps Ellie … and therein lies the problem with “A Country Called Home.” Poots is a likable young actress, but she’s stuck playing the dullest kind of indie drama cliche: the lost soul who finds herself after taking a trip into her past.


It doesn’t help that Axster populates her Texas setting with stock types: unreliable alcoholics, mean-spirited bigots and an overwhelmed single dad played by the director’s husband, Oscar-winning musician Ryan Bingham. Nearly every character who isn’t Reno is either thinly drawn or relies on unflattering perceptions of Texans.

June Squibb has nice moments as Ellie’s grandmother Judy, a kindly woman who fills her calendar with community activities. But the warmer, fresher presence of Judy and Reno only clarifies what’s wrong with the rest of “A Country Called Home,” a paint-by-numbers indie that barely uses its most vivid hues.


‘A Country Called Home’

No rating

Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

Playing: Vintage Los Feliz 3, Los Angeles