Jono Oliver’s Home is an Odyssey, with Jack Hall (Gbenga Akinnagbe) its anxiety-ridden Ulysses whose curse is a severe mental disorder.
Separated from his family and living in a recovery home following a psychotic episode during which he tried to burn his house down, he’s in the final weeks of his program and executing a plan to reenter society as a working man with his own place.
Akinnagbe’s embodiment of Jack is the most wholly realized accomplishment in the film. His speech, hesitant and stammering, is matched by defensive body language, his walk and posture as guarded and wary as a bird’s. It’s a truly physical performance in a film that didn’t demand it. Home oscillates wildly between the unstudied, intimate drama it wants to be and often overwrought melodrama.
Jack is an infant sitting at the edge of a cliff, an innocent in terrible danger, beset by the indifference or antagonizing of nearly every other character. Amid the madness of New York rental prices, the apathy of his new doctor, the meanness of a neighborhood drug dealer exploring the ceiling of Shatneresque over-emoting, and the resentment of his ex-wife, the viewer becomes the only person engaged with Jack’s world— a faraway land in which nobody has empathy.
The cast, which includes The Wire‘s Isiah Whitlock Jr., Tawny Cypress, and James McDaniel, elevates some otherwise schmaltzy storytelling with charisma and easy naturalism. The casting director needs a raise.