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

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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.

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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.

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‘A Country Called Home’

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No rating

Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

Playing: Vintage Los Feliz 3, Los Angeles


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