Watching #Home reminded me of a poem from school called Father To Son by Elizabeth Jennings. The poem captures the agony of a father who has developed a fraught relationship with his son, as the child has gone to make his moves in the world. The father is trying hard to rebuild the relationship by offering compassion but the air is always filled with uncomfortable silences and little to no sense of reciprocation. As the father sees his son's affection waning slowly and the generation gap only becoming wider, he grieves alone in neglect. In Rojin Thomas' #Home, Oliver Twist played by Indrans is like the universal Father from this poem.
His older son Antony Oliver Twist, played by Sreenath Bhasi, is a one-hit-wonder director who received massive accolades for his first film but his spark seems to have vanished and is now suffering from writer's block. Since he wrote his first film in his hometown, he decides to go back to find inspiration. In his house, we see every other Indian middle-class to upper-middle-class household. An ever sacrificing mother- Kutiyamma played by Manju Pillai, a subservient but arduous father, a physically deteriorating grandfather, and a notorious younger brother – Charles Oliver Twist played by Naslen K Gafoor. The always quarrelling but closely knit family has lost all kinship with the children as technology has taken over their lives and Oliver finds it hard to cope with the change. He once used to own a video cassette company which became obsolete and now whiles away his time tending to his beautiful terrace garden that no one appreciates.
Indrans portrays the anguish of not being able to use a smartphone with such honesty that all parents would have related to that. The zoomed in shots where we see his eyes express sorrow are just gut-wrenching. Everybody would find a little sense of themselves in the film.
Being a young adult I related to Charles the most who is a budding youtuber and provides a comical relief to the otherwise sentimental screenplay. In one scene, he says to Kutiyamma while searching for food in the refrigerator "Be it fridge or phone, even if you know it's empty, you feel sad if you don't check it often." It had me in splits but also made me realise how addicted we are to our phones. The children take their parents for granted and are blasphemously ignorant of their feelings. In one scene, Antony belittles his father telling him how trivial his existence and his achievements are. When Charles points out the insensitivity of his remark, Antony goes on to defend himself by saying "Pappa feeling sad?", as if parents are inanimate objects only automated to fend for their children.
Oliver's childhood best friend and neighbour is what I would like to call an internet hypochondriac. He thinks he has every possible illness because of Facebook forwards, which also reflects the downsides of the internet. I am sure all of us at least know one relative like him. The beauty of the film is that it thrives on relatability. The broiling frustration and gradual decline in mental health, as Antony juggles to manage both the professional and personal conflict never seem flimsy. But at one point, I felt that the film was trying to be too many things – connecting dots with a subplot that showcases Oliver's generosity, presenting a commentary on mental health, preaching about limiting phone usage and ultimately loving your family. The entire idea of proving a point stretched the film, making it wobbly but its heart was still always in the right place.
The performances especially by Indrans and Nasleen are laudable. The clever writing and the ability to make the characters feel so authentic is spectacular. Rahul Subramanium's music is fresh and lifts the plot. The movie is not going to start a movement in limiting phone usage but it will definitely make us appreciate our parents more. You can watch it on Amazon Prime.