‘Homemade’ movie review: Kristen Stewart, Gurinder Chadha headline captivating anthology of lockdown fillms

Gurinder Chadha is among 17 directors who offer intimate portraits of the lockdown due to the global pandemic in ‘Homemade’

Gurinder Chadha is among 17 directors who offer intimate portraits of the lockdown due to the global pandemic in ‘Homemade’   | Photo Credit: Luca Marchant/Netflix

With works from Pablo Larraín, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rachel Morrison and many others, 17 directors offer intimate portraits of the lockdown due to the global pandemic

As the virus continues to rage across the world and we have to come to terms with a new normal, comes this timely gem. 17 short films might seem a lot, however the vignettes speed by as one is lost in worlds of a child’s imagination, a teen’s angst, or a remote drone.

The Italian-Chilean anthology features some of our best known storytellers presenting their visions of quarantine life. Ladj Ly’s Clichy-Montfermil features Buzz’s (Al Hassan Ly) drone’s eye view of the empty streets and silent queues in Montfermeil—a very different Montfermeil from Ly's Les Misérables.

Paolo Sorrentino’s Voyage Au Bout De La Nuit has Queen Elizabeth II quarantining with Pope Francis. The two get to know each other, dancing, flirting and even skinny dipping. When the Pope asks the Queen for his cup of tea, the Queen says she doesn’t know how to make it as it has always been brought to her. She has an epiphany saying, “You and I are nothing but symbols, which is why we don’t know how to do anything.”

Rachel Morrison’s The Lucky Ones is a lyrical thank you for having food on the table, and a vehicle to go to far off places where the virus has not struck. Morrison, who lost her mother to cancer, says she does not remember the illness, rather she remembers the balloons, having dessert for breakfast and the magical bed that could be raised up at the push of a button. She hopes her five year old son will also remember the good things about quarantine.

Kristen Stewart’s Crickets, a portrait of a woman suffering with insomnia is mesmerising. The tight close-ups faithfully capture Stewart’s tiniest expressions. And we can all empathise with “The day after tonight, which is tomorrow, which means nothing” and “I feel my dreams are dreaming.”

Kristen Stewart in ‘Crickets’

Kristen Stewart in ‘Crickets’  

In Last Call (Pablo Larraín) an old man calls his ex-girlfriend from a nursing home. He confesses to always loving her and even naming his daughter, Pamela after her. When Pamela calls out his bluff, he tells the nurse to connect him to another ex-girlfriend. Larraín uses a light touch to talk of love, loss and growing old.

Rungano Nyoni’s Couple Splits Up While In Lockdown LOL is such an accurate picture of our lockdown interactions that it is scary. Entirely composed of texts, the short film tells a story of a couple who split up and get back together.

Jacinta is cute as a button and her attempts to keep herself occupied during quarantine are endearing in Natalia Beristáin’s Espacios. If Jacinta’s antics are sweet, Sebastian Schipper’s Casino reveals the unravelling of a mind as a man strikes up a friendship with his hallucinations.

As a boy finds out how many people are left on earth, he begins to think of the meaning of life in Naomi Kawase’s Last Message.

  • Directors: Ladj Ly, Paolo Sorrentino, Rachel Morrison, Pablo Larraín, Rungano Nyoni, Natalia Beristáin, Sebastian Schipper, Naomi Kawase, David Mackenzie, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Nadine Labaki Khaled Mouzanar, Antonio Campos, Johnny Ma, Kristen Stewart, Gurinder Chadha, Sebastián Lelio, Ana Lily Amirpour
  • Storyline: 17 directors offer intimate portraits of the lockdown due to the global pandemic
  • Run time: 4-11 minutes

Ferosa, a teenager in Glasgow, says “I don’t think I am ready to be 16 yet” in David Mackenzie’s Ferosa. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Penelope features a menacing gigantic moon in a world laid waste by a virus. The radio announcer’s robotic voice adds another layer of foreboding to the butterflies, the misbehaving toaster and flying fish.

Several years later (if we are still around) we can say we watched the birth of a star in Nadine Labaki & Khaled Mouzanar’s Mayroun and the Unicorn. Shot in a single take, Mayroun and the Unicorn, follows Mayroun who enters her father’s office and improvises many adventures with her toy unicorn.

Antonio Campos’ Annex is a disquieting story of a child finding an unconscious stranger on the beach. He is brought home, the child’s parents wonder about the man, who steps into the pool the next morning only for the child to find the unconscious stranger on the beach again. Shiver.

Johnny Ma in his eponymous film composes a video for his absent mum on day 50 of quarantine which is also Mother’s Day. He speaks of the emptiness of posting Mother’s Day tributes on social media even as he wonders if he is not guilty of the same with his video. Mama’s dumpling recipe at end of the film is comfort food at its best.

The lockdown is a gift of time for Gurinder Chadha to spend with her twins Kumiko and Ronak. It is also a time to grieve for family lost and pray for the stricken world. Bend it like Beckham makes a guest appearance in Unexpected Gift.

In Sebastián Lelio’s Algoritmo, a woman (Amalia Kassai) wonders why the director wants a musical on the lockdown while a solitary cyclist bikes around the eerily deserted streets of Los Angeles in Ana Lily Amirpour’s Ride It Out. In the voice over Cate Blanchett raises a pertinent question — “Do you count the things lost or do you count what is still left.”

With its sense of building a sense of community in isolation, Homemade is the right medication to cope with months of “blursdays.”

Homemade is currently streaming on Netflix


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Printable version | Aug 4, 2020 9:03:46 AM |

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