House of D

Tom Warshaw (David Duchovny) is an American artist living in Paris. He is married to a French woman (Magalie Amadei) and they have a son, Odell (Harold Cartier). But not all is well with Tom; he is unsettled and spends an entire night with his wife, sitting at a table in the garden of the apartment house (with all the neighbors listening in), telling her the story of his life. She tells him that he must go back to New York and find himself before he can be happy.


Flash back to 1977 when Tom is 13 years old. His father has died and he lives with his nurse mother, Katherine (Tea Leoni). She is depressed and takes pills, but tries to care for Tom in the best way she can. Tom has a “retarded” friend, Pappass. They deliver meat together and bury their meager savings in a hole along the side of the Woman’s House of Detention in Greenwich Village. An inmate, Lady Bernadette (aka Odelia played by Erykah Badu) watches him bury the money through a fractured piece of mirror from her cell on an upper floor. They become friends; she becomes his advisor. Then a series of serious things happen and Tom’s world changes.


This is an uneven film, written and directed by Duchovny. As I was leaving the theater, two men asked me what film I had seen and did I like it. I thought a moment and replied, “I think this is a story I would have preferred to read.”


Yet, I think the film is a sincere attempt to work through unresolved adolescent issues that plague us all at one time or another. I just did not find it all that credible. I though Robin Williams was miscast. He’s too big a name and he distracted me because I kept thinking he was going to do something else. To be fair, I think he tried hard to play retarded, or mentally handicapped (as the years change so does his diagnosis!), but they should have cast an unknown in the role.


There was also so much penile puerile stuff in it. If this were a film aimed at a 13-year old audience, maybe I could see it. But it is a film about an adult’s journey. I think kids would snicker and miss the intended story; it bored me because there was so much of it.


Wait for the DVD on this one.



So, here we go with another euthanasia themed story. As media educators know, the media normalize behavior and when a behavior is re-enacted over and over, we tend to stop questioning it. Additionally, because this is about a 13 year old who unplugs his mom from a respirator, I find this moment in the film (euthanasia) highly improbable to the story as well as sorry it was even written in.

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