“Home”: An Indie Film About Mental Illness

The true obstacle is other people’s doubts. Jono Oliver, creator of Home, to NAMI

Although the award-winning drama Home has been on DVD since March, I just heard of it for the first time via a professional newsletter—writer/director/producer Jono Oliver happens to be the son of two New York City social workers.

The Story

Character Jack Hall (Gbenga Akinnagbe) has schizophrenia and has lived for many years in a group home in New York City. He’s now gotten himself a job and feels ready to leave the facility and find his own apartment. His therapist (James McDaniel) and head nurse (K.K. Moggie), however, aren’t convinced this is the best idea.

Inkoo Kang, Los Angeles Times: “A home is also a precondition in reestablishing a relationship with his young son (Judah Bellamy). But teaching the boy about becoming a man begins to feel cruel when Jack is so rarely treated like one himself.”

Some of the Supporting Players and Additional Plot Points

Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter:

Jack’s best friend Dundee (Danny Hoch) represents a cautionary tale of sorts. A grocery story delivery man who spends most of his time hawking bootleg DVDs, he encourages Jack to pursue his goals even while displaying signs of the mental illness with which he is similarly afflicted.

Rebuffed by his uncaring father (Joe Morton) and met with clearly well-deserved suspicion by his embittered ex-wife (Tawny Cypress), Jack becomes increasingly desperate.

The Trailer

More About Jack

Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter: “Jack has clearly done significant damage both to himself and the people in his life, but it’s impossible not to root for him in his struggle to regain dignity and self-respect.”

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, Film Monthly: “Jack’s character is so endearing, and, as shattered as his life is, he is also concerned about his fellow patients at the group home and one friend who lives on the street, working minimum hours delivering groceries.”

The Portrayal of Mental Illness

Miriam Bale, New York Times: “Mental illness is presented here as something by turns endearing, surprising and frightening. A jarring realism comes both from Mr. Oliver’s script and the performances by an ensemble of brilliant character actors…”

Selected Reviews

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, Film Monthly: “First-time director Jono Oliver brings to life a brilliant movie that covers the issue of mental health in such a soft, caring way that allows The Wire actor Gbenga Akinnagbe to shine.”

Stephanie Merry, Washington Post: “…’Home’ deals with an important topic we don’t see enough onscreen, and the movie’s depiction of mental illness is sympathetic without pulling punches. We see the world through Jack’s eyes, which allows us to both root for him and fear that he may not, in fact, be ready for his own place.”

Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter: “Although a bit too leisurely and featuring a few too many interminable group therapy scenes, the film nonetheless succeeds in packing considerable dramatic impact thanks to its incisive characterizations, realistic dialogue and well-drawn milieu.”

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