Life as a House (2001): Familiar Drama, Elevated by Kevin Kline and Kristin Scott Thomas

Toronto Film Festival 2001 (World Premiere)–Though New Line is releasing Life As a House in late October, in its theme and message it’s the perfect Christmas movie, a sort of a contemporary, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  Among other things, like the Jimmy Stewart’s hero in Frank Capra’s 1946 classic, the protagonist’s name is George.

Rendering a masterful performance, Kevin Kline plays an architect, burdened by a messy, disorganized life, who, upon being diagnosed with a fatal illness, decides to rebuild his shabby shack into a respectful house with the help of his alienated teenage son (splendidly played by Hayden Christensen, the new Anakin Skywalker in the upcoming Star Wars: Episode II–Attack of the Clones). It’s too bad, that this emotionally heartfelt family drama escalates quickly into predictable sappiness, for it contains many touching moments and striking turns by its ensemble, overall representing a leap forward as a director for Rocky’s producer, Irwin Winkler.

New Line’s best marketing hook is the cast, which also includes Kristin Scott Thomas and a group of talented youngsters. If properly positioned, Life As a House may benefit from the need of Americans, in the wake of the recent disastrous terrorist attack, to see a healing, feel-good melodrama that celebrates unity, harmony, and other old fashioned family values, seldom seen anymore in mainstream Hollywood fare.

In the first scene, rebellious son Sam (Christensen) wakes up to loud rock music, gets high, puts a noose around his neck, and masturbates. That’s as tough as the movie gets, but then, with each progressing sequence, the story get closer and closer to Terms on Endearment, at best, and TV-Movie-of-the Week, at worst. Indeed, script by Mark Andrus, who co-wrote As Good As It Gets (directed by James Brooks, who also helmed Terms of Endearment) is vastly uneven, perhaps a result of trying to please diverse demographics.

Life As a House bears resemblance to another inspirational family melodrama, Pay It Forward that failed commercially, despite a name cast of Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment. But in essence, the film is a throwback to a cycle of films, precisely a decade ago that dealt with male menopause and mid-life crisis among overachieving and callous yuppies. The best of which was The Doctor, starring William Hurt, as a successful but emotionally detached surgeon with an abrupt, businesslike manner, who’s forced to reassess his life and become a better person after facing death.

George Monroe (Kline) is a fortysomething architect who has harbored a lifelong ambition to build his own dream home on a cliff at the edge of the ocean. (The picture was shot on the site of a theme park in California’s Palos Verdes, where ocean-view homes were built for a reported budget of $1 million). But it’s been a fantasy that George has put off, while sinking lower and lower into a depressed state of mind that resulted in overwork for a big firm, divorce from him beautiful wife, Robin (Thomas), who’s still in love with him, and estrangement from his son. Sam spends his time popping pills, while working part-time as a hustler to older men (though he’s not gay) to pay for his drugs.

Opportunity knocks, when George’s is suddenly fired and then diagnosed with a terminal disease, which he decides to conceal from all those around him. At first, his plan seems wild-eyed and downright crazy. George’s cul-de-sac neighbors, among them a single mom, Colleen (Steenburgen), with whom he had an affair, despise his sagging, dilapidated shack.

The first member to rally for George’s cause is his emotionally distant wife, Robin, who once shared his house and his dream. Married to a man she’s not sure is right for her, Robin is raising two kids from her second marriage, and Sam, with whom she’s not even on speaking terms. Robin’s periodic visits to George’s house rekindle the flame between them, and draw her kids closer to him than to their own biological dad. In one of the film’s climaxes, George and Robin take the floor of the unfinished house with an intimate dance, soon joined by the other participants.

The point of Winkler’s earnest drama is to bring George’s family and acquaintances to the realization that his quest is as much a practical necessity as a spiritually redeeming enterprise, for a self-absorbed careerist and errant husband-father. Though the script is not entirely schematic, it follows all the requisite paths, namely arguments, counter-arguments, and reconciliations, until it reaches its pre-ordained denouement.

The yarn goes decidedly wrong with some contrived subplots and portraiture of the secondary characters. Least appealing creation is neighbor Colleen, a hypocritical, aging mom, who sleeps with her daughter’s classmate in farcical scenes that belong to a Blake Edwards comedy. Also misguided is a subplot that involves Colleen’s daughter, Alyssa (Malone), a sexually-curious girl, who first tries to bed George, then settles for his son. But the worst character, the villain of the piece, is that of George’s nasty neighbor, who turns out to be the gay man serviced by Sam in his car.

Comparison between Robin’s first and second husbands are also too broad and obvious. Peter (Sheridan) is depicted as a detached man who seldom shows affection, let alone physical touch with his wife or children. In contrast, the product of an abusive father, George is gradually turned into a soft, sensitive man, forced to recognize his sins before it’s too late. Last reel, which is particularly sappy, contains at least a dozen reconciliations that end with hugs, turning the saga into a schmaltzy disease-of-the week telepic.

With the exception of the misguided Steenburgen, the cast is uniformly good, with good acting from Kline and Thomas, most evident in some of their emotionally subtle encounters. Nonetheless, the great discovery here is Christensen, in his first major screen role, who possesses the looks and magnetism of a genuine movie star. There’s no doubt that after wielding The Force as Skywalker in the new Star Wars, Christensen will become a major Hollywood player.

Life As a House offers visual pleasures that go beyond its solemn story, especially ace lensing by Oscar-winning Vilmos Zsigmond. Too bad, the text is not as crisp and radiant as his imagery.


Pro co: New Line presentation, in association with Life productions GMBH &Co.KG
US dist: New Line
Int’l dist: New Line Int’l
Exec prods: Brian Frankish, Lynn Harris, Michael DeLuca
Prods: Irwin Winkler and Rob Cowan
Scr: Mark Andrus
Cinematographer: Vilmos Zsigmond
Prod des: Dennis Washington
Ed: Julie Monroe
Music: Mark Isham


Kevin Kline, Kristin Scott Thomas, Hayden Christensen, Jamey Sheridan, Sam Robards, Scott Bakula, Jena Malone, Mary Steenburgen

xosotin chelseathông tin chuyển nhượngcâu lạc bộ bóng đá arsenalbóng đá atalantabundesligacầu thủ haalandUEFAevertonxosokeonhacaiketquabongdalichthidau7m.newskqbdtysokeobongdabongdalufutebol ao vivofutemaxmulticanaisonbetbsport.fitonbet88.oooi9bet.bizhi88.ooookvip.atf8bet.atfb88.cashvn88.cashshbet.atbóng đá world cupbóng đá inter milantin juventusbenzemala ligaclb leicester cityMUman citymessi lionelsalahnapolineymarpsgronaldoserie atottenhamvalenciaAS ROMALeverkusenac milanmbappenapolinewcastleaston villaliverpoolfa cupreal madridpremier leagueAjaxbao bong da247EPLbarcelonabournemouthaff cupasean footballbên lề sân cỏbáo bóng đá mớibóng đá cúp thế giớitin bóng đá ViệtUEFAbáo bóng đá việt namHuyền thoại bóng đágiải ngoại hạng anhSeagametap chi bong da the gioitin bong da lutrận đấu hôm nayviệt nam bóng đátin nong bong daBóng đá nữthể thao 7m24h bóng đábóng đá hôm naythe thao ngoai hang anhtin nhanh bóng đáphòng thay đồ bóng đábóng đá phủikèo nhà cái onbetbóng đá lu 2thông tin phòng thay đồthe thao vuaapp đánh lô đềdudoanxosoxổ số giải đặc biệthôm nay xổ sốkèo đẹp hôm nayketquaxosokq xskqxsmnsoi cầu ba miềnsoi cau thong kesxkt hôm naythế giới xổ sốxổ số 24hxo.soxoso3mienxo so ba mienxoso dac bietxosodientoanxổ số dự đoánvé số chiều xổxoso ket quaxosokienthietxoso kq hôm nayxoso ktxổ số megaxổ số mới nhất hôm nayxoso truc tiepxoso ViệtSX3MIENxs dự đoánxs mien bac hom nayxs miên namxsmientrungxsmn thu 7con số may mắn hôm nayKQXS 3 miền Bắc Trung Nam Nhanhdự đoán xổ số 3 miềndò vé sốdu doan xo so hom nayket qua xo xoket qua xo so.vntrúng thưởng xo sokq xoso trực tiếpket qua xskqxs 247số miền nams0x0 mienbacxosobamien hôm naysố đẹp hôm naysố đẹp trực tuyếnnuôi số đẹpxo so hom quaxoso ketquaxstruc tiep hom nayxổ số kiến thiết trực tiếpxổ số kq hôm nayso xo kq trực tuyenkết quả xổ số miền bắc trực tiếpxo so miền namxổ số miền nam trực tiếptrực tiếp xổ số hôm nayket wa xsKQ XOSOxoso onlinexo so truc tiep hom nayxsttso mien bac trong ngàyKQXS3Msố so mien bacdu doan xo so onlinedu doan cau loxổ số kenokqxs vnKQXOSOKQXS hôm naytrực tiếp kết quả xổ số ba miềncap lo dep nhat hom naysoi cầu chuẩn hôm nayso ket qua xo soXem kết quả xổ số nhanh nhấtSX3MIENXSMB chủ nhậtKQXSMNkết quả mở giải trực tuyếnGiờ vàng chốt số OnlineĐánh Đề Con Gìdò số miền namdò vé số hôm nayso mo so debach thủ lô đẹp nhất hôm naycầu đề hôm naykết quả xổ số kiến thiết toàn quốccau dep 88xsmb rong bach kimket qua xs 2023dự đoán xổ số hàng ngàyBạch thủ đề miền BắcSoi Cầu MB thần tàisoi cau vip 247soi cầu tốtsoi cầu miễn phísoi cau mb vipxsmb hom nayxs vietlottxsmn hôm naycầu lô đẹpthống kê lô kép xổ số miền Bắcquay thử xsmnxổ số thần tàiQuay thử XSMTxổ số chiều nayxo so mien nam hom nayweb đánh lô đề trực tuyến uy tínKQXS hôm nayxsmb ngày hôm nayXSMT chủ nhậtxổ số Power 6/55KQXS A trúng roycao thủ chốt sốbảng xổ số đặc biệtsoi cầu 247 vipsoi cầu wap 666Soi cầu miễn phí 888 VIPSoi Cau Chuan MBđộc thủ desố miền bắcthần tài cho sốKết quả xổ số thần tàiXem trực tiếp xổ sốXIN SỐ THẦN TÀI THỔ ĐỊACầu lô số đẹplô đẹp vip 24hsoi cầu miễn phí 888xổ số kiến thiết chiều nayXSMN thứ 7 hàng tuầnKết quả Xổ số Hồ Chí Minhnhà cái xổ số Việt NamXổ Số Đại PhátXổ số mới nhất Hôm Nayso xo mb hom nayxxmb88quay thu mbXo so Minh ChinhXS Minh Ngọc trực tiếp hôm nayXSMN 88XSTDxs than taixổ số UY TIN NHẤTxs vietlott 88SOI CẦU SIÊU CHUẨNSoiCauVietlô đẹp hôm nay vipket qua so xo hom naykqxsmb 30 ngàydự đoán xổ số 3 miềnSoi cầu 3 càng chuẩn xácbạch thủ lônuoi lo chuanbắt lô chuẩn theo ngàykq xo-solô 3 càngnuôi lô đề siêu vipcầu Lô Xiên XSMBđề về bao nhiêuSoi cầu x3xổ số kiến thiết ngày hôm nayquay thử xsmttruc tiep kết quả sxmntrực tiếp miền bắckết quả xổ số chấm vnbảng xs đặc biệt năm 2023soi cau xsmbxổ số hà nội hôm naysxmtxsmt hôm nayxs truc tiep mbketqua xo so onlinekqxs onlinexo số hôm nayXS3MTin xs hôm nayxsmn thu2XSMN hom nayxổ số miền bắc trực tiếp hôm naySO XOxsmbsxmn hôm nay188betlink188 xo sosoi cầu vip 88lô tô việtsoi lô việtXS247xs ba miềnchốt lô đẹp nhất hôm naychốt số xsmbCHƠI LÔ TÔsoi cau mn hom naychốt lô chuẩndu doan sxmtdự đoán xổ số onlinerồng bạch kim chốt 3 càng miễn phí hôm naythống kê lô gan miền bắcdàn đề lôCầu Kèo Đặc Biệtchốt cầu may mắnkết quả xổ số miền bắc hômSoi cầu vàng 777thẻ bài onlinedu doan mn 888soi cầu miền nam vipsoi cầu mt vipdàn de hôm nay7 cao thủ chốt sốsoi cau mien phi 7777 cao thủ chốt số nức tiếng3 càng miền bắcrồng bạch kim 777dàn de bất bạion newsddxsmn188betw88w88789bettf88sin88suvipsunwintf88five8812betsv88vn88Top 10 nhà cái uy tínsky88iwinlucky88nhacaisin88oxbetm88vn88w88789betiwinf8betrio66rio66lucky88oxbetvn88188bet789betMay-88five88one88sin88bk88xbetoxbetMU88188BETSV88RIO66ONBET88188betM88M88SV88Jun-68Jun-88one88iwinv9betw388OXBETw388w388onbetonbetonbetonbet88onbet88onbet88onbet88onbetonbetonbetonbetqh88mu88Nhà cái uy tínpog79vp777vp777vipbetvipbetuk88uk88typhu88typhu88tk88tk88sm66sm66me88me888live8live8livesm66me88win798livesm66me88win79pog79pog79vp777vp777uk88uk88tk88tk88luck8luck8kingbet86kingbet86k188k188hr99hr99123b8xbetvnvipbetsv66zbettaisunwin-vntyphu88vn138vwinvwinvi68ee881xbetrio66zbetvn138i9betvipfi88clubcf68onbet88ee88typhu88onbetonbetkhuyenmai12bet-moblie12betmoblietaimienphi247vi68clupcf68clupvipbeti9betqh88onb123onbefsoi cầunổ hũbắn cáđá gàđá gàgame bàicasinosoi cầuxóc đĩagame bàigiải mã giấc mơbầu cuaslot gamecasinonổ hủdàn đềBắn cácasinodàn đềnổ hũtài xỉuslot gamecasinobắn cáđá gàgame bàithể thaogame bàisoi cầukqsssoi cầucờ tướngbắn cágame bàixóc đĩa开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育亚新体育亚新体育亚新体育爱游戏爱游戏爱游戏华体会华体会华体会IM体育IM体育沙巴体育沙巴体育PM体育PM体育AG尊龙AG尊龙AG尊龙AG百家乐AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人<AG真人<皇冠体育皇冠体育PG电子PG电子万博体育万博体育KOK体育KOK体育欧宝体育江南体育江南体育江南体育半岛体育半岛体育半岛体育凯发娱乐凯发娱乐杏彩体育杏彩体育杏彩体育FB体育PM真人PM真人<米乐娱乐米乐娱乐天博体育天博体育开元棋牌开元棋牌j9九游会j9九游会开云体育AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人爱游戏华体会华体会im体育kok体育开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育欧宝体育ob体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育开云体育开云体育棋牌棋牌沙巴体育买球平台新葡京娱乐开云体育mu88qh88