Home Again (M)
Rating: 4 / 5
It’s refreshing to see a romantic comedy where the star is a middle-aged female pursued by attractive and eligible gentlemen.
Alice (Reece Witherspoon) is a newly-separated 40-year-old woman who has moved from New York to Los Angeles for a fresh start as a single mum with her daughters, 11-year-old Isabel (Lola Flanery) and little Rosie (Eden Grace Redfield).
Isabel has problems with depression and anxiety, which she tells us early in the film, while Rosie does a good number in eye-rolling at her older sister’s and mother’s difficulties adjusting to their new lives.
Added to this, Alice needs to restart her career as an interior decorator, so she certainly has a few things on her plate, along with turning 40.
On a night out to celebrate the big birthday, she meets a trio of young wannabe filmmakers, who are desperate for somewhere to stay while they pitch their ideas to LA producers. After an exuberant night, Alice, her girlfriends and the trio of boys end up at her place, and the boys move into the guest house.
There is an interesting twist to the usual ‘cougar takes a lover’ story, as our would-be cougar, Alice, is pursued by 27-year-old Harry (Pico Alexander), who finds it hard to take no for an answer. With her head firmly on her shoulders, Alice does her best to dissuade his romantic advances, with mixed success.
Meanwhile, his two mates Teddy (Nat Wolff) and George (Jon Rudnitsky) have become surrogate uncles to her young daughters who are desperate for some affectionate and positive male influence in their lives. Add in her retired actress mother Lillian (Candice Bergen), who takes a shine to the boys, and we are in for a fun ride with bumps along the way.
While Alice is separated from Austen (Michael Sheen), a music producer in New York, the attraction between them hasn’t died, but Austen’s lack of commitment to and time for the marriage made Alice call time on the relationship. However, Austen still cares deeply for his daughters and realises the treasure he has lost in not paying attention to Alice.
The lack of acrimony between the separated Alice and Austen is a nice change from the usual angst we see in separated parents on the screen.
As we follow the emotional journey of Alice and the girls trying to establish their new lives, we see the trio of boys jumping through the hoops with facile and insincere LA producers—audiences will enjoy squirming during these amusing scenes, and cheer when the boys finally stand up to them.
Alice is the subject of romantic tussles for her affections between Harry and Austen, but the conclusion is not a neat one, all tied up in a pretty package with a pink bow.
However, the ending director Hallie Meyers-Shyer has chosen is a satisfying one, demonstrating the African saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Alice finds her ‘village’ and all the protagonists end up as winners. Julie Houghton
Highlight: Reese Witherspoon’s expressive face and believable characterisation
Red flags: Adult themes, strong language