Home (2008)

Directed by: Ursula Meier
Distributed by: Lorber Films

Written by Jeff Sparks


In “Home,” Isabelle Huppert stars as Marthe. With her husband, two teenage daughters, and their young boy, the family lives in a small house that’s placed within feet of a highway that is out of commission. It may be an odd place to live, but they make the best of it. On the abandoned road they play sports, ride bikes, or even lounge around on furniture they’ve placed there. Marthe has grown used to the location and her children love the freedom to play anywhere they want until one day a construction crew comes and reopens the highway. Within a matter of days, their lives have been turned upside down. Where the children used to play there are now thousands of cars speeding through. The oldest daughter’s relaxation time is ruined because her music is inaudible and the youngest is crippled with fear of the toxins in the air. Marthe is unable to sleep and her husband is barely able to leave the house without being run over. With their everyday lives unlivable the family quickly begins to take their frustrations out on each other. Meier’s direction mirrors this separation in a scene where the youngest child has run across the highway to the center barrier. Marthe tries to get to him but the stream of cars is too thick. Every time she makes it halfway to him she has to turn back. No matter how many times she tries she’s always pushed back by oncoming traffic. Finally, she gives up, staring off into the sunset as the film descends into total silence while we watch her emotionless face look on until the boy appears on the screen next to her, having made it back himself. No matter how much she wants to keep her family together, the next few months will be a testament to their existence that no family could be prepared for.

Previously the only way they could leave was by a dirt path on the opposite side of the highway. Before it was no problem to walk across, get in the car and skedaddle. But now it’s a danger just to go for a drive. If the noise and the entrapment weren’t enough, one day a traffic jam leaves hundreds of strangers wandering around mere feet from their home. The bored travelers look on at the family as if they’re a zoo attraction. When Marthe takes the family for a walk they return to find that the oldest daughter has had enough and left. Before they reach that point as well, the family decides to block the outside noise out by replacing their walls and windows with cement blocks. The inside of the house now looks more like a bunker than a home. Huppert’s Marthe is dedicated and stubborn. She isn’t going down without a fight even if there’s nothing to fight for. Some of her actions seem questionable in real-world logic, but Huppert’s ever-present ability to convince suffocates any doubts. There’s never been a story like this on film that I know of. The simplistic direction gives it a feeling of realism. The “family home in trouble” plot makes it sound like something that you would see a story about on the news, but “Home’s” dynamic approach to characters makes it far more memorable than any story you would see reported on TV.

“Home (2008)” Trailer

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