Dir/scr: David Duchovny.US. 2004. 97mins.
Cloying when it means tobe heartfelt, simplistic when it aims to be nostalgic, House Of Dconcerns a troubled artist who must come to terms with his past if he everhopes to get a handle on his life. In his feature writing and directorial debut,actor David Duchovny shows that he knows where to place a camera but also,alas, that his sense of story and character lean toward the sentimental.Commercial prospects look dim both domestically and internationally, whileancillary markets make look slightly, but not much, better. Film enjoys alimited release from Apr 15.
Although told mostly inflashback, the film opens in contemporary Paris where American-born artist TomWarshaw (Duchovny) is trying to patch things up with his estranged wife and adolescentson, who feel increasingly disconnected from him. That's because Tom is sodisconnected from himself.
Cut back to GreenwichVillage in 1973 when Tom is now 13-year old Tommy (Yelchin). The recent deathof his father has left his mother (Leoni) in a deep depression, from which sheonly occasionally rouses herself to be a parent to her son.
Holding in his own pain, thesweet, almost angelic Tommy takes to skipping classes in school, but in everyother way remains his same dutiful self, working as a delivery boy for a Frenchrestaurant and hanging out with his best friend Pappass (Williams), a 40-yearold, mentally challenged neighbour.
He also starts hangingaround outside the Women's House Of Detention where he develops a relationshipof sorts with inmate Lady Bernadette (Badu). Tommy can't see her but hears herthrough her third floor window, and from his perch on the sidewalk they strikeup a friendship. Tommy tells her about his friendship with Pappass, hisproblems with girls and his worries about his mother.
When Tommy develops a crushon a classmate and begins to spend time with her, a jealous Pappass breaks intoa bicycle shop and steals a bike. Feeling responsible, Tommy takes the blameand is expelled from school. Events then take a further turn for the worse.
As the melodrama increases,the story becomes even less convincing. Nor does the audience feel anyemotional attachment to the characters, especially Tommy who is so naive andsaintly it's as if British 1930's child star Freddie Bartholomew had been cast.Nothing about Yelchin's performance feels authentic nor, for that matter,Williams, who is in sugary, Good Will Hunting mode.
Although never a greatactor, Duchovny has done some memorable work (The X-Files, Twin Peaks).But here, as the adult Tom, he narrates the film in an unappealing monotone,completely lacking in inflection or character.
Viewers expecting Duchovny'sdirectorial debut to be a dark, intense piece - more in keeping with his X-Filesimage and his reputation for intelligence - will be sorely disappointed. Inthis regard the film is reminiscent of Edward Norton's directorial debut, KeepingThe Faith, an equally weak and disappointing film about two best friends, apriest and a rabbi, who fall in love with the same woman. Norton's intense,intellectual work as an actor simply did not jibe with the flat film hedirected there: much the same can be said for Duchovny and House Of D.
Prod cos: Bob Yari Prods, Jeff Skoll Prods, Southpaw Ent, TribecaProds
US dist: Lions Gate Films
Exec prods: Zanne Devine, Adam Merims, Jeff Skoll
Prods: Richard B. Lewis, Bob Yari, Jane Rosenthal
Cine: Michael Chapman
Pro des: Lester Cohen
Ed: Suzy Elmiger
Music: Geoff Zanelli
Main cast: Anton Yelchin, Tea Leoni, David Duchovny, Robin Williams,Erykah Badu