“Home” (2008)

Isabelle Huppert, Olivier Gourmet and their three kids have lived for years in their idea of Paradise: a house in the middle of nowhere, with the one sign of civilization an abandoned highway that practically runs through their front yard. They’re perfectly contained, perfectly contented (a little too well contented, judging by their communal bathing habits)…but then the highway is suddenly reopened, and a J.G. Ballard story breaks out. The family doesn’t fall apart right away; at first they try to see something festive in the tractor-trailers whipping past their noses. But the kids’  school bus picks them up on the other side of the road, simple tasks like grocery shopping become ordeals, and the noise—the noise especially—is relentless. They begin cracking up in interesting ways, and by the time they start hauling in materials to soundproof the house, you know they’re toast. This thing’s good, though it’s easy to imagine some people thinking the family’s descent doesn’t go far enough—that it ought to involve butcher knives, incest, cannibalism and backward-talking midgets. I had Home in my shopping cart for weeks and kept reading the synopsis, thinking there’s no way a film could live up to that idea, but it doesn’t sag for a second, which you can’t say about a whole lot of movies. It’s got a lovely ending, too. It’s the first feature from the French-Swiss director Ursula Meier, who had to shoot it in Bulgaria—the only place with both the right look and a crumbling highway she could make her own.

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