Krakow 2016 Review - Home
The work of Daniel Mulloy has often been defined by both starkness and simplicity. Partly steeped in the social realist aesthetic so beloved of British cinema as well as containing a faintly surreal air, Mulloy’s films – such as the BAFTA Award winning Antonio’s Breakfast - have dealt with the complexity of family and the life changing minutiae of existence. Home, his latest film, contains many of his familiar trademarks and is his most overtly political work to date. It is also one of his most powerful.
A typical English family begin the day like many. The children get ready whilst playing and the parents indulge them as they too prepare for the rest of the day. But there’s a tension in the air, a certain unease. It soon becomes apparent that all are going on a trip. But, despite the forced excitement of the parents, this is not a holiday. It becomes apparent that they are undergoing a dangerous journey to a new land.
Films about immigration – especially the harrowing journeys than many migrants endure to get to a new life – have been an understandably popular one over the past few years. Films such Jens Assurs’ A Society are a prime example of how short film has dealt with one of the most pressing political issues of the times. But these films are typified by dealing with the ‘other’. Other people and other cultures looking to escape to a western society. Home flips this on its head by giving us a recognisable, typical English family who become dangerously uprooted.
In many ways the film is rich in absurdity. We are never given a reason to why this suburban family need to escape their seemingly comfortable life to enter a strange and dangerous new land. Yet this absurdity reflects the real life situations we often see paraded in news. “But they have smartphones and nice clothes, why do they need to come here?” is often the reply that comes when confronted with those looking for new lives. But there is little attempt to understand further, to delve deeper into the story. Home doesn’t give us the chance to really understand further but– by making the protagonists recognisable and from a seemingly comfortable existence – this need to understand does not undermine the empathy. Thus the absurdity of outrage in the reaction held by many is also underscored. Are people outraged by the fact that they don’t understand what others are going through? Or are they outraged because they are scared by ‘the other.’
The fact that the film is funded by –amongst others - the UN may bring forth ideas that Home is little more than Public Information Film. But Mulloy brings his typical humanity to the foreground making this a much more rich work than simply a piece of paid for polemic. The opening scenes, shot in a manner reminiscent of classic British Social Realism, are rife with genuine warmth as well as the threat of danger. As we continue we become more detached (a scene shot through a car window for example) as the wheels come off and we feel the real sense of everything falling apart. It’s this feel of desperation as well as total commitment to family that makes this film extremely rich and human as well as a clever prism through which we can examine our own prejudices.
Premiering at South By Southwest, the film has also screened at competition at the likes of Krakow and Tampere. Given both its subject matter and Mulloy’s provenance as a filmmaker a continued and healthy film festival run fro Home seems assured.
Original Title: Home
Director: Daniel Mulloy
Country: UK / Kosovo
Run Time: 20 mins
Contact: Dokufest, firstname.lastname@example.org
01 June 2016, by Laurence Boyce