Indie Film Review “A Sort of Homecoming”

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First, the Recap:

We tend to push away memories that are less than harmonious. Whether caused by current circumstances or, more likely, herald back to hard childhood experiences, facing them in the present either way is never easy nor desired. Sometimes, however, there’s a road to healing found in taking a deeper, reflective look at the causes behind buried pains, especially from the past. New York TV executive Amy (Michelle Clunie) has a hectic but satisfying life that gets an unanticipated interruption thanks to a phone call and the discovery that her former high school debate team coach, Annie (Kathleen Wilhoite), is calling her back to Louisiana via a newly disclosed, unpredicted arrangement that upends Amy’s immediate plans.

Despite hesitations in accepting the situation, being with Annie causes Amy’s mind to contemplate back to high school at St. Delphine’s and the debate team she was a part of as a student there. Amy (Laura Marano) and Nick (Parker Mack) are the top debaters in their school, with opportunities to gain precious scholarships to elite colleges if they’re able to excel and reach national finals. Encouraged by Annie to take part in a summer camp to hone their skills prior to senior year, Amy and Nick, along with a rival school’s top debater, the bohemian-minded and privileged Rose (Katherine McNamara), the pressure to learn fast and perform even better focuses and molds their minds.

But with family issues and other coming-of-age pains to go through, plus the volatile politics of the national debate circuit, the ability to push through to the end becomes more and more strained, with the final outcome a huge question mark.

Next, my Mind:

One might recall how often people involved with band in high school were made fun of. The same might be said for those participating in an activity like debate as well.  May this reviewer say that said people need to view this indie feature from director Maria Burton and writer/producer Lynn Reed, because truthfully, within its adult and teen-based life story is found the illustration of a hard-driving, intimidatingly competitive national sport in which most of us would probably fold under its weights of time constraint, eloquent argument, and often necessarily improvised power of quick thinking and persuasive speech. Well-paced and keeping its tone both light yet keenly intense, the film places you in this world while also displaying teens entering adulthood.

As the young Amy, Marano very much encapsulates the initially reluctant, tentative yet more-competent-than-she-knows debater who, despite successes already achieved, still doesn’t fully believe in herself while wrestling with who she is. Mack is likewise solid as Nick, a young man under extremes in home life while also attempting to handle the tangibly harsh pressures of being in a national spotlight and promising collegiate future he may or may not want. McNamara’s seemingly uppity yet ultimately charming, fun, confident, and care-free Rose adds both foil elements to the story as well as believable support to those she sooner or later might actually be going up against. Add Clunie’s adult Amy and Wilhoite’s Annie as the overall catalysts, debate over.

Delivering a narrative with drama, humor, fun characters, and a finale filled with pathos and a believable moral, “A Sort of Homecoming” presents itself as a glimpse into accepting the present, reconciling the past, and knowing the consequence of choice.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!




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