Capone has special words for and kind thoughts about TOUCHING HOME, starring Ed Harris!!!
Published at: May 14, 2010, 12:15 p.m. CST by Capone
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here, with some thoughts on a film that might even be too small a release for my Art-House Round-Up column. This is one of those works that is literally going around the country one theater at a time in hopes of picking up a well-deserved grassroots following, and I wanted to make sure you all know about this special film.
While I try with all my might to judge a movie as a movie and not as a sequel or an adaptation or a remake or whatever the case may be, each film brings its own baggage whether it be in the form of the actors, the director, the writer, the source material, or, in the case of TOUCHING HOME, the story of how this film got made. I've reviewed a lot of films and interviewed a lot of people who have called certain works "passion projects," but I'm pretty sure none of those come close to what twin brothers Logan and Noah Miller have accomplished in the years since their father Charlie died. The brothers were fledgling baseball players who each looked like they had a shot at the majors when they were ready to graduate college. The brothers play themselves in this family drama that takes a whole lot of chances and manages to pull off what could have been a disastrous, self-serving work. Instead what the Millers--who wrote and directed TOUCHING HOME--have accomplished is one of the most personal and moving films you may see all year.
Of course, Logan and Noah (who play characters called Clint and Lane; don't ask me who's who) didn't do this alone. The film kind of lives and breathes thanks to the great Ed Harris, playing the alcoholic Charlie, who barely bats an eye as he's stealing his sons' savings to buy booze and gamble away as fast as he can get his hands on it. Charlie was not a bad man, despite what I've just said about him. But the alcohol does exactly what it needs to to wreck his life and destroy the fragile bonds between father and sons. Watching Charlie work his way back into his sons' lives and systematically chip away at their trust and love is so painful to watch, you're almost forced to look away from the screen.
Another familiar face is the always-reliable Brad Dourif as the boys' mentally challenged Uncle Clyde. He's brought in more as a foil for Charlie to bounce his thoughts off of, but it's still a solid performance. Rounding out the main cast is Ishiah Benben who plays a school teacher named Rahael, who falls for one of the brothers and is exposed to Charlie from time to time, making the entire situation that much more embarrassing for the sons. She certainly pretties up the film, but this isn't a movie about a romance. It's about the brutal reality of living with (or near) a man who is so deep in the hole that he will likely never come out. I've seen Ed Harris play some pretty messed-up guys in his time, but Charlie takes him places most actors would fear to tread.
The Miller brothers aren't the greatest actors you'll ever see, but it helps that they are playing versions of themselves. Their baseball skills are unquestionable, and considered how many seriously heart-wrenching scenes they've written for themselves, they do pretty solid work exhibiting rage and hurt thanks to their father's behavior. But the film gets exponentially better when Harris is on hand.
Charlie isn't an abusive drunk, as far as we can tell. He gets in bar fights, but usually the result is him getting his ass handed to him. The bleak and sorrowful look in Harris' eyes tells us Charlie's whole story, one loaded with regret and shame. When the local sheriff (and the brothers' former high school baseball coach) Jim Perkins, played by Robert Forrester, begins to take Charlie to AA meetings, it actually seems to make a difference, and the family comes together for the first time in perhaps forever. But that isn't the end of the story. I guess technically the making of this movie is the end of the story, but there's a bit more in between that's worth getting out and finding this film.
After a limited run in certain theaters in California, TOUCHING HOME begins playing moving across the country in these cities on these days. Make the effort and don't let the exceedingly downbeat tone of the film scare you away:
May 14th -- New York, NY at the Village East Cinemas
May 21st -- Huntington, NY at the Roslyn 4; Montclair, NJ at the Clairidge 6 Cinema;
and White Plains, NY at the Cinema 100
May 28 -- Santa Cruz, CA
June 4th -- Tampa, FL at the Tampa Theatre
June 18th -- St. Louis, MO at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema
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