Arts

Home Again has syrupy sentiment liberally drizzled over every frame

Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon fights whitened tooth and painted nail to make us care about her glamorous central character – but fails

BEAUTIFUL, rich people with adorable offspring try to convince us that being single is the end of their privileged worlds – boo hoo! – in first-time director Hallie Meyers-Shyer's romantic comedy.

Home Again is cut from the same luxurious fabric as The Holiday and It's Complicated, films penned by Nancy Meyers, the director's proud mother.

Emotional syrup evidently runs in the family because Meyers-Shyer drizzles gooey sentiment over every frame of her contrived wish-fulfilment fantasy about a recently separated wife, who stirs the loins of three potential suitors.

"I'm the idiot who is dealt a winning hand and still managed to lose," grumbles the heroine's estranged husband when he acknowledges everything he let slip through his fingers.

He's not joking – his queen of hearts is a superwoman, who harks from Hollywood royalty, cheerfully chauffeurs the kids to school, cooks nutritious meals, runs a fledgling interior design business, cleans her sprawling Los Angeles residence without breaking a sweat, and still finds time to look expertly coiffed and styled from the moment she wakes.

This perky homemaker is Alice Kinney (Reese Witherspoon), whose marriage to music executive Austen (Michael Sheen) has recently broken down. She relocates to Los Angeles, to the home of her Oscar-winning director father, where she nurtures their daughters Isabel (Lola Flanery) and Rosie (Eden Grace Redfield) with help from her screen siren mother, Lillian (Candice Bergen).

Coincidence flings a trio of aspiring twentysomething film-makers – director Harry (Pico Alexander), screenwriter George (Jon Rudnitsky) and actor Teddy (Nat Wolff) – into Alice's rarefied world and they take up temporary residence in her guesthouse.

"Did you guys have a sleepover?" asks Rosie when she spies Harry emerging from her mother's boudoir. "Are you friends with his mum?"

While the three beaus pursue their dreams under the mentorship of a famed director (Reid Scott), Alice prepares a colour chart for a demanding client (Lake Bell). Sexual tension percolates between Alice and dreamboat Harry until a jealous Austen arrives unannounced, intent on patching up the marriage.

Home Again unfolds in a picture perfect alternate reality, in which lonely singletons cry perfect tears to a soundtrack of Aretha Franklin, Carole King and Johnny Mathis.

Oscar winner Witherspoon fights whitened tooth and painted nail to make us care about her glamorous single mother but it's impossible to muster sympathy for a character, who has everything.

HOME AGAIN (12A, 97 mins) Romance/Comedy/Drama. Reese Witherspoon, Pico Alexander, Jon Rudnitsky, Nat Wolff, Michael Sheen, Candice Bergen, Lola Flanery, Eden Grace Redfield, Lake Bell, Reid Scott. Director: Hallie Meyers-Shyer

RATING: 4/10

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