Home, James: Film Review

This low-key, low-budget effort has a genuine regional flavor

Jonathan Rosetti's debut feature concerns the ill-fated romance between two Oklahoma natives torn apart by conflicting goals

A good example of genuine regional filmmaking, Home, James is suffused with the bleak atmosphere of its Tulsa, Okla. setting. Jonathan Rosetti’s debut film about the troubled romance between a photographer and a hard-drinking socialite is modest in its aspirations and execution, but it delivers an affecting portrait of a relationship threatened to be torn apart by conflicting goals.

Oklahoma native Rosetti, who also co-scripted, plays James, a photographer by day and a "sober driver" by night. The latter vocation, which provides the film its title, refers to his driving inebriated people home in their cars with his scooter stowed in the trunk.

One evening his clients include Cooper (Kerry Knuppe), a beautiful young woman who's so drunk that she can't even tell him her home address, instead repeatedly delivering the command, "Home." A romantic relation between the two immediately develops, although she informs him that she plans to move to New York City in just three weeks.

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James, whose photography career is just on the verge of taking off thanks to the offer of a gallery show, has no desire to leave his native city. But Cooper, who seems to have unlimited means, is too restless to consider staying.

"Don’t you want to be someplace where more things are happening?" she asks.

As his new lover's departure becomes ever more imminent, James finds himself increasingly despondent and becoming angrily sullen to his friends (warmly played Rick Dacey and co-screenwriter Julie Gearheard). He also begins drinking heavily -- no small irony considering his way of making a living -- at one point having an accident while driving his scooter while drunk.

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The film is less notable for its simple storyline than its well-drawn characterizations and such incisive details as the use of split-screen that mirrors both the characters' central conflict and James' method of photography using a dual-frame camera. The numerous examples of his work on display provide a vivid illustration of the city's urban landscape.

Made for just $50,000 raised via a Kickstarter campaign, Home, James is a fine example of making more with less.

Opens April 18 (Devolver Digital Films)

Cast: Jonathan Rosetti, Kerry Knuppe, Julie Gearheard, Rick Dacey, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Marshall Bell

Director: Jonathan Rosetti

Screenwriters: Julie Gearheard, Jonathan Rosetti

Producers: Julie Gearheard, Jonathan Rosetti, Colin Moran Erin Anne Williams

Director of photography: George Su

Editor: Karoliina Tuovinen

Composer: Noah T.

Not rated, 84 min.