Marcia Gay Harden Concocts Universal Chemistries from Her Own in Home


Set in Pennsylvanian Amish country circa 1969, Mary Haverstick’s self-reflexive 16mm drama—about our evolving perceptions of where that titular emotional shelter lies—couldn’t have been more personal without starring the writer-director’s actual family. Instead, Marcia Gay Harden elevates an otherwise modest picture as poet and recovering breast-cancer patient Inga, a doting mother who, by day, flies kites and points out cloud pareidolia with her spirited young daughter, Indigo (Eulala Scheel, Harden’s real-life kid). Together, the two frequent an elderly woman’s house that Inga longs to buy and restore, as it’s reminiscent (read: flashback-inducing) of her childhood home. By night, the little one spies on Inga as she sits alone in the kitchen, drinking herself surly to cope with life under the same roof as her unfeeling workaholic husband (Michael Gaston). It’s tough to criticize the minor-league poetry that Harden narrates as her character scribbles; all of the verses were written by Haverstick’s late mother, and a two-page story she also wrote serves as the film’s inspiration. Using cinema as self-therapy might be a selfish way to treat audiences, but Harden and Scheel’s chemistry makes the mother-daughter dynamic universal.

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