Homeward: Review | film reviews, interviews, features

Homeward: Review. By Julius Tabel.

This Ukrainian production is about a father and his youngest son who want to go back to their former home in Crimea which is under Russian control in order to bury the older son who died in war. On this long trip starting in Ukraine, both get to know each other better, and especially the son takes a very big development.

Overall, I found this construction to be very interesting, although I at first had no idea if these people are Russian or Ukrainian, but once you have that figured out, you also have to remember recent history and what happened to Crimea in the past years. Furthermore, the character developments are more or less sensical, and at the end, faith is a big subject that suddenly becomes an important, but still meaningless thematic.

As I said, I was interested right from the start, and I think that everybody who is a fan of discovering culture and history will be interested as well. The film provokes many questions at first because it starts right off in the middle of the plot. It gives no time to introduce, but as a compensation, there are many silent moments during which “Homeward” gives you certainly enough time to think about it.

This also means that it is very slowly told. While this kind of storytelling was good and well inserted in the first half of the film, as it gave the viewer time to process the story, the later in the movie, the more boring it became. The climax isn ́t really intense, although it wants to be, and there is no real change of tempo nor any twist in the plot. There wasn ́t one moment when “Homeward” grabbed me and shocked me. My interest slowly shifted into thin air. There is nothing convincing to see.

However, when “Homeward” still had part of my attention, it took some time to develop its two main characters which was perhaps the best decision the director Nariman Aliev made. Although it is never really explained, Aliev finds a way to show the relation between father and son. The rule of “show don ́t tell” was very well executed. The family isn ́t really close, but on their way home, the two build up an importance for each other. The bound that was created between them is probably the strongest reason for watching this film.

Nevertheless, if you only look at the boy ́s development, it simply isn ́t reasonable. It makes no sense. Normally, he studies at a university and is far away from the spiritual stuff of his father because his family is Muslim. For whatever reason though, faith becomes the most important thing for him over the course of the story without any motivation. I understand that his personal tension grows, as he is about to enter annexed land, which was once his home, but his decisions come from nowhere. Additionally, especially the first half has some very questionable moments that wouldn’t actually happen.

From time to time, you may smell the scent of an idea behind “Homeward” as it criticizes the political situation, fatherhood, war, and even marriage, but overall, it has no powerful impact. I can ́t imagine that somebody would be so focused on these small passing mentions, as that “Homeward” could be a truth-speaking drama. Its intentions are somewhere hidden, but I don ́t think that anybody really wants to find them out. The film isn ́t attractive enough for that to happen.

All in all, I don ́t see “Homeward” being a solid movie. For me, it ́s not a good film. The characters are inconsistent, although their inner relation makes sense. The message is hidden, but doesn ́t want to be discovered. The story is interesting at first, but not attractive at the end. I cannot recommend “Homeward” because I don ́t see anyone actually liking this. Nevertheless, if maybe this construction is really personal to a viewer, then it might speak into his/her heart from time to time.

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