Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Busy Philipps, Erika Christensen, Victor Garber, Raphael Sbarge, Ken Jenkins
Director: Paul F. Ryan
Six students lie dead at the hands of a fellow classmate. In the aftermath an unlikely bond is about to form. Alicia (Busy Philipps "Dawson's Creek") is a Goth misfit who hates the world and everyone in it and may know mor... more »
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Mary-Jo W. (mjowest) from SHELBYVILLE, MI
Reviewed on 1/19/2012...
Adding my five stars to the reviews.
Unexpected ending, which I Love, The best acting by Busy Philipps, and Erika Christensen- a very wrenching, real story line.
I thought the police department actors could have used more polishing, but not enough to wreck the film.
Watch it. With kleenex near.
Steve A. (Cenobite) from GRANITE BAY, CA
Reviewed on 9/15/2008...
A very underrated movie. The best of the rash of mostly-crappy (elephant) post-columbine school shooting movies in my opinion. Low budget and unheard of for the most part but very well scripted and acted. Very sad but well worth watching.
Powerful, wonderfully acted film.
J. Martin | Woodside, NY | 10/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If there is one movie that will be completly ignored and shouldn't be at this years Academy Awards it's Home Room. One of the most intense, heartbreaking films I have seen all year. Turning in a career making performance is Busy Phillips (Audrey of Dawson's Creek). Here she proves to be one of the best young talents today delivering an emotional performance as Alicia. Busy Phillips is the embodiment of the word versatile. She can play the crazy, outgoing, and fun Audrey on Dawsons to the angry, bitter, depressed Alicia in Home Room. She makes the film worth seeing. Erica Christenson also turns in a heartbreaking performance. Her portrayel of Deanna is so sincere and honest. The 2 have an amazing chemistry. Everyone please see this film. It's very powerful and has some of the best performances of the year."
Only-A-Child | 10/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Home Room" like "Zero Day" and "Elephant", was inspired by the recent wave of school shootings. But unlike the other two films, "Home Room" focuses on two survivors (not the shooters or those killed) in the aftermath of a shooting. Making it less exploitive and more useful because little effort is wasted in asking questions for which there are no answers.
Don't give up on this little film during the first 20 minutes, it is supposed to set up the real story but plays like a rejected "Hill Street Blues" episode. It is lame but bear with it, at least it pads the running length enough to get the film classified as a feature. I recommend skipping this entirely and just jumping ahead to the hospital scenes-there is nothing here that you can't pick up from the remainder of the film.
Like a lot of good little films this was creatively a one-man show as Paul F. Ryan was both the writer and the director. While this arrangement does not guarantee a good film, it is usually a good sign because it will mean a certain unity of construction and execution that is often lacking in big budget dramatic features. Because the script of "Home Room" is its real strength it is fortunate that the writer also executed the production and insured that his vision made it onto the screen.
Ryan takes a huge chance with an ending that tests the limits of the average viewer's sentimentality tolerance. He runs it right up to the edge but against all logic leaves you crying instead of cringing. Why the ending works is some combination of the audience need for a reward at the end of this kind of journey, the song (Sarah McLaughlin's "Sweet Surrender") he goes out on, and the amazing editing of the final few seconds.
The other strength of the film is the casting of Busy Phillips (Alicia) and Erika Christensen (Deanna) as the main protagonists. Although Phillips plays her standard alienated surly teen and Christensen her intelligent daughter of a good family, they both bring more intensity to their roles than ever before. The family life of both girls is more than satisfactory and of little interest to Ryan. What is happening here is all about the two of them despite a lame side story about a police detective wondering around town trying to tie Alicia to the lone shooter. If they ever re-cut and trim the film this side story should be condensed.
A story about two extremely disparate girls bonding and helping each other is hardly a novel idea and Ryan could have easily steered this film into cliché and predictability. But instead his script has them engaging in a fascinating and convincing sparring match, slowly chipping away at each other and sharing moments of vulnerability, only to retreat back inside themselves. Deanna's "I'm dying inside" line just tears you apart-I can't think of a moment in any other film that I felt as intensely as that one. She desperately needs a connection that Alicia just as desperately resists. Deanna only makes progress when she retreats. The viewer keeps expecting the group hug that never seems to happen.
Ultimately this not only generates a lot of suspense but leaves you admiring both characters and the two actresses who brought them to life.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child."
An independent film on the aftermath of a school shooting
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 08/01/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
I do not know if I have ever seen a film that offered a series of stunning revelations at the climax and then threw away the big finish with pair of directing theatrics totally out of place in the two-hour movie I had just seen. But even those mistakes do not stop "Home Room" from being a compelling film.
"Home Room" is about the aftermath of a shooting at a high school in a small town. Writer-Director Paul F. Ryan begins his film at the moment when the shooting is over and the first person we see is the tactical officer (Harper Johnston) who had to shoot the teenage boy inside the classroom. When Detective Martin Van Zandt (Victor Garber of "Alias") enters the room there the bodies of the shooter and his dead classmates, along with one living person, a girl standing in the corner.
Alicia Browning (Busy Philipps of "Dawson's Creek") is your typical Goth girl, but after being grilled by the police she goes home and turns herself blonde. Meanwhile, Van Zandt is ordered by his superior to find somebody to be held accountable for this tragedy. The shooter is dead and he killed his parents, from whom he got his gun, but the community is outraged and demands somebody be brought to justice. When it turns out that the shooter called Alicia the night before and talked for an hour, she becomes the prime suspect.
All Alicia wants to do is to graduate from high school and get out of town as quickly as possible. She has already missed a year of school, further alienating her from her classmates. When she goes to school to study for final exams she discovers it is closed, and when Principal Robbins (James Pickens, Jr.) learns she is spending her time smoking on the roof of her house, he forces Alicia to look in on Deanna Cartwright (Erika Christensen of "Traffic"), who is recovering from both a head wound and the trauma of being shot at the local hospital. The two have never talked before and Alicia dismisses Deanna, at one point calling her a girl who would see the silver lining in a mushroom cloud.
Obviously we have seen countless films where two people who have nothing in common forged a friendship, however unlikely and tenuous. But in "Home Room" that is only the framework for dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic experience. There are depths to both characters to be explored and this film takes its time in doing so. All of the dramatic threads come together in a scene that takes us back to where we started and examines from a different perspective what we think we know about what happened and these characters. You might see one of the surprises that comes in this climatic scene, but I do not think anybody is going to see all of them coming.
But then we are treated to a montage of the teenagers offering explanations as to "why" that looks like a public service announcement by the government and then goes right into a music video as Sarah McLachlan's "Sweet Surrender" provides a musical benediction to the final silent scene between Deanna and Alicia. I swear, it was like somebody else came in and directed the final minutes of the movie. From a dramatic narrative "Home Room" suddenly becomes a film that wants to discuss big issues out in the real world and the shift is just too abrupt and too heavy handed.
"Home Room" comes down to the performances of Philipps and Christensen, who both do a good job of getting beyond the stereotypical characters to show the traumatic aftermath of what they have been through, even as we are learning more about those traumas. I am sure there are serious discussions to be had over the question of violence and shootings in schools, and watching this film may well engender them. But I still think the human drama here stands on it's own, despite the problematic ending.