A Place Called Home is probably the most realistic movie I've reviewed in a long time, if not ever. It is indeed a tale of heroic struggle against great odds, a story of love and friendship facing against injustice, cruelty, and tragedy, but it doesn't involve world-changing stakes or demons or aliens or any magnificent circumstance, but rather just the story of a single father trying to survive after the unexpected death of his wife during childbirth, forcing him to endure difficulty after difficulty whilst trying to secure his daughters' future. Whether it be ruthless loan sharks, indifferent banks enforcing their mortgages, or even nosy in-laws and rude parents, Levi faces no end of constant battle against the world as he struggles to move on from his wife's passing. Ultimately though, while there are many themes and messages of this movie that are very obviously played out for the viewer, the main one it seems to me is friendship. So how does a Place Called Home size up? Let's dive right into it.
Firstly, the movie's story is pretty straightforward, involving no twists or turns for the viewers to speculate about after finishing it. By no means does this indicate the movie is boring or otherwise dull however. I found myself getting sucked in by the compelling and very real nature of Levi's struggles and the continuing mental (and often times physical) strains he's undergoing as his wife Ashley's death begins a series of struggles that he holds difficulty in navigating through. Levi is a simple man who enjoys his station in life and left his wife to handle the children, and upon her death seems ill-prepared to handle the complexities of both their lives. The already monumental undertaking of raising two girls is compounded with increasing financial issues that Levi seems adamant to refuse assistance regarding, mainly from his in-laws, whom he views as being degrading of his situation and trying to steal away his daughters from him. Instead, Levi encounters a loan shark named Daryl who entraps him inside a life-or-death conundrum to pay him back before a set due date or face... bloody consequences. To make matters worse, his oldest daughter Madi continues getting in trouble at school, continually acting out as a result of her own insecurities regarding her mother's passing. However, Levi isn't alone in these struggles, which leads onto the main theme of this movie, beyond moving on from tragedy and the power of love: Friendship. Levi's friends Barrett, James, and Kevin are practically his brothers and stick by him through thick and thin, and their scenes together are what I believed held the most gravity considering their genuine bonds of fellowship. By the movie's climax when Levi's financials seem hopeless even after reconciliation with his in-laws, his friends arrive to save the day and provide a monetary contribution that assumably rescues him from Daryl and the bank's grip given the movie's hopeful albeit open-ended ending. His friends never negatively judge him like his in-laws, and even at the movie's beginning Barrett seemed genuinely concerned and wanted to help Levi through his emotional distress, albeit awkwardly. In the end, I believe while the movie places heavy emphasis on Levi's own personal growth and acceptance of tragedy and moving through grief, it's also about how the ironclad strength of friendship is a power that nothing can withstand against. Life seems genuinely hopeless at times but having people to talk too or a support net of allies can make all the difference when one is considering drastic action, and in the end Levi's friends whom he cherished for so long came together in his darkest hour to provide the assistance and love he needed. Friendship is just another form of love, just as crucial if not sometimes moreso than romantic bonds, which is something I think this movie is also trying to say. There's also a very poignant and genuine underlying theme regarding the sheer indifference and often times inability of American society to recognize those struggling and instead of assisting them trying to squeeze as much cash as possible from their already ailing hands. Levi is given no quarter by the bank despite being already pushed against the wall by Daryl, and his hospital bills are continually piling up. It's a really awful world we endure where services such as basic care are practical financial death sentences for the unprepared, in this case already adding to Levi's tragedy.
Finally though, the movie is subsequently about grief and the battle to defeat it. Everytime Levi walks into his old bedroom, Ashley's voice is heard and recollections of their happy memories play over his current and depressed self. Yet as the movie ends, Levi returns into his bedroom a final time, and we no longer hear Ashley's voice. We are presented with a memory of her discussing her baby's gender and Levi's excitement, but the feeling is far warmer and more hopeful than previous instances that served to display his loneliness and isolation. Grief and letting go are major aspects of Levi's journey as he refuses to forget his wife and her love, but also understands that for the sake of the children they left behind, he must remain a strong father and take up the mantle of raising them to honor her memory.
A Place Called Home is a decisively simple yet heartwarming and inspiring movie about friendship, love, and the human condition in the face of unspeakable tragedy. It's about a simple man stepping up to become the father his daughters need while navigating societal injustice and indifference against his situation and increasing financial difficulties compounded by encounters with a ruthless loan shark. But beyond all that.. it can be interpreted a story of how love and friendship are the greatest tools a human can wield against darkness. Not money, not status, but just the genuine bonds we form together as human beings on this Earth. If you're looking for a captivating movie to hold you over for an hour and forty minutes, give it a watch. Have a great day guys, and be sure to check out my upcoming new series I'll be posting on this Blog. God Bless and expect more content soon!