CAPSULE: Ellie, an aspiring twenty-six-year-old furniture designer, is asked back to the Texas town where she grew up and where her alcoholic father made her life miserable. Her father has had a serious stroke and this may be her last chance to see him alive. She returns home and finds the town worse than she expected. She befriends an androgynous cowboy singer and we see the town through their eyes and explore unfinished business Ellie had with her father. The story is minor and a little slow to develop, but there are humorous highlights. The film touches on aging, fidelity, and father-daughter relationships. Anna Axter directs a screenplay she co-wrote with Jim Beggarly. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10
Neither Ellie (played by Imogen Poots) nor her brother has much use for their alcoholic father. But now he has had a bad stroke and Ellie feels responsible to go back to Texas and see him and, if it becomes necessary, to attend his funeral. Home is a small town in Texas where not too surprisingly nobody particularly liked Ellie's father. Then again there is a definite shortage of likeable people in this town. And most of the people have known Ellie's father, and it was not to their benefit. Many of the characters have quirks that fail to be amusing. Eliie does find a comrade as wounded as herself and builds a relationship on that. Her friend is Reno (Mackenzie Davis), an aspiring singer=songwriter whom most people in town think is male, but it seem a moot point. It does not matter a lot because among either gender his audience seems less willing to applaud than to try to bounce beer bottles off Reno's head. Ellie must decide if she wants possible popularity in the town or a friendship of Reno that would turn people off. It takes her several microseconds her to make that decision.
The pacing of this film is slow, following the model of classic small-town-in-Texas films like THE LAST PICTURE SHOW. People living in Texas seem to be unrushed. The film tries to achieve a bit of Texas soul by having guitar music oppressively push aside the story telling. I hope the funeral was intended to be funny. I would hate to think it was unintentional.
The centerpiece of the film has got to be Imogen Poots who has had supporting roles to this point. I do not believe she has had starring roles before. Poots is something of a surprise. She has attractive eyes that tell very well what she is thinking. Apparently Poots is British but is absolutely believable as a Texas-raised girl.
There is not a lot in the plot that is surprising or even original. There is some wit and there is a not too unrealistic look at strained family relationships. I rate the film a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10. A COUNTRY CALLED HOME is currently playing in theaters, VOD and iTunes.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3953626/combined
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Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2016 Mark R. Leeper