The type of documentary that aspires to first-name intimacy, Jeffrey Togman's Home takes a close look at two extraordinary women: Sheree Farmer, a divorced mother struggling to raise six children in a gang-infested Newark neighborhood, and Mary Abernathy, a community activist seeking to help Sheree buy a house at an affordable price in a new government-subsidized development. Sheree has 10 weeks to clear her credit, a process complicated when she's arrested for child abuse after a fight with her 15-year-old daughter, leaving the girl in the custody of her problematic father. Employing a countdown structure, the man who Sheree repeatedly calls Jeff generates a good deal of suspense as to whether the deal will go through while quietly establishing a narrative line that illuminates the gut realities of poverty and examines the cultural significance of homeownership. Even-tempered and unflappable, Mary discusses her ongoing battle with cancer and casually recalls facing down drug dealers ("they're all very colorful and interesting").That Mary is white and Sheree black never quite becomes an issue, even as race remains a subtextual presence, surfacing in the odd offhand remark (one of Sheree's children says that her mother told her the new house is on "a white people's street"). Warmhearted but never sentimental or condescending, Home finally proves most affecting as an unsparing glimpse into the psychology of poverty.
Get the Film & TV Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.