Having jumped to international stardom for her role in the acclaimed action-thriller Run Lola Run for which she won a BAMBI Award for Best Actress, Franka started her career as an actor in the comedy film After Five in the Forest Primeval (1995), for which she won a Bavarian Film Award for Best Young Actress. Her first movie in the English language was Blow (2001), alongside Johnny Depp. The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy followed, sealing her reputation as a Hollywood household name.
Home marks her directorial debut. Starring the legendary Kathy Bates, Jake McLaughlin (Warrior, Savages) and Aisling Franciosi (Game of Thrones, The Fall ), Home is a bittersweet drama that tells the story of a 40-year-old man (Marvin, played by Jake McLaughlin) returning home to look after his dying mother (Kathy Bates) after spending 20 years in prison for killing a neighbour’s grandmother.
Kathy Bates is sublime as Marvin’s dying mother, Bernadette.
As Franka said herself, this film is about beauty and brutality coexisting, about fragility and strength. As it couldn’t be otherwise with Kathy Bates, she absolutely shines as Bernadette, Marvin’s mother and Jake McLaughlin’s performance is, in my view award-winning, conveying with total conviction the disorientation that Marvin feels as an ex-con having spent all his adult life in jail and his willingness to be given a second chance. Somehow it reminded me of a classic Western where the loner comes back to his hometown to fight for his place, looking for redemption. Like many Westerns, Home is set in one of those godforsaken towns that exist by the dozen in the fringes of L.A. Franka very appropriately refers to them as “California tristesse”.
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Things quickly get difficult for Marvin as he starts developing a relationship with Delta (played beautifully by Aisling Franciosi) one of the grandchildren of the woman he murdered, and whose brothers are seeking revenge. I have to admire the sensitivity with which Franka directed these actors, easing them into their characters, all of them full of complexity and contradictions. Franka wanted viewers to embrace their emotions when watching this film, to allow themselves to feel anger, joy, pity… “I didn’t want to give viewers any easy answers,” says Franka. “Suffering and despair are universal, I wanted the audience to see both sides.”
Jake McLaughlin’s character, Marvin, is a complex character full of contradictions.
Another thing that caught my attention was the extreme attention to detail in every frame. Bernadette’s house looks old, chipped or broken trinkets spread on dusty shelves. This is a home that has seen better and happier times from which nothing is left. Bernadette is a tough no-nonsense woman, verging on cold, but details like a deck of cards with a small-dog face on the back hint that she hasn’t always been this way. Again, the use of antithesis by Franka, as with Marvin’s character, who one minute seems brutal and the next shows his tenderness and vulnerability.
Aisling Franciosi (Game of Thrones, The Fall) plays Delta, granddaughter of the woman Marvin murdered 20 years ago.
I genuinely enjoyed Home and look forward to seeing what Franka Potente will bring us next as a film director.
Words: Julia Pasarón