By Ian Barr
The catch-all programme title “Contemporary World Cinema” carries with it a threat of homogeneity, and films like Anne Sewitsky’s incest drama Homesick do little to dispel that impression. The film’s first warning bell is an overly convenient therapy-session opening scene, in which Charlotte (newcomer Ine Marie Wilmann) attempts to evade her shrink’s questions about her fraught relationship with her parents, all observed with a contrived, handheld “realism” that’s intended to distract from the scene’s dramatic clunkiness. From there, a pattern emerges in which the elliptical (read: vague) dispersion of narrative information regarding the relationship between Charlotte and her estranged half-brother Henrik (Simon J. Berger), coupled with the film’s naturalistic (read: drab) visual style, clash with the melodramatic machinations of the film’s plotting.
Homesick is elevated considerably by the tremendously charismatic and affecting screen debut from Wilmann, and one episode in which Henrik and Charlotte infiltrate a board meeting on their first “date,” with the former daring the latter to create a scene in the room, is excitingly charming and troubling in equal measure. But it’s an exception to the rule, and Sewitsky puts less faith in Wilmann’s expressivity than in her soundtrack of soft piano noodling and Bon Iver. If nothing else, the film offers viewers bragging rights for discovering an exciting new acting talent; but like so much landfill festival cinema, Sewitsky’s strenuous attempts to make an unsensational and non-judgemental film on a weighty subject result in a film that throws its back out.