We Came Home Is More Interesting to Talk About Than to Watch


Carrying all the markings of a well-intentioned first documentary effort by someone with fantastic family circumstances, We Came Home is ultimately more interesting to talk about than to watch. Director Ariana Delawari’s father, Noor Delawari, has served as governor of Afghanistan’s Central Bank since 2011, weathering the faltering promises of U.S. nation-building, the crumbling credibility of Hamid Karzai’s presidency, and a corruption scandal—all after 33 years of war, 32 years of expatriation, and three children. The director’s half-Sicilian, half-Afghan mother also clearly has many stories to tell, having met Noor during a lengthy late-’60s trip through a thoroughly modern Afghanistan, moving into the dangerous, bombed-out shell of Kabul post–9/11, and returning to Los Angeles after seven years to be near her children and grandchildren, leaving her doggedly determined husband behind. Unfortunately, this wealth of experience takes a backseat to the director’s experiences recording her debut album. Passionately felt patriotism, global politics, and how a combination of the two can sorely test romantic and familial bonds get glossed over in dull voiceover. Yet it would be unfair to attribute the documentary’s overall problems entirely to Ariana’s ego. This is a boutique production that suffers a bad case of POV syndrome, sloppily following the blueprint of what documentaries about families and important issues are supposed be. The editing, which haphazardly shifts between these different threads without much rhythm or reason, erodes any possibility for sentiment.