Last night I went to see Home Again, that inexplicable-looking new Reese Witherspoon movie, with my sister and our friend Esmé. Once again, I succeeded at having the greatest time of my life seeing a movie. This is my goal every time I go to see a movie, to have the greatest time in my life, and I almost never fail at it. Every so often I would lean over to Esmé and whisper, "This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me," and it was true every time.
I would watch Reese Witherspoon playfully flirt with a mirror for three hours, and I would pay seventy-five dollars American for the privilege of watching her do it. I believe Reese Witherspoon is one of the most charming actresses I have ever seen in my life, and I have never once failed to heartily enjoy the energy and precision she brings to Movie Crying. There's Prestige Reese and there's Autopilot Reese (and probably a multitude of Reeses in between), and this was definitely Autopilot Reese. Not that she was phoning it in, because she decidedly wasn't; it is merely that this is the kind of charming, constantly-ducking-off-to-the-bathroom-to-shake-it-off-and-pull-herself-together work she can do in her sleep.
It was one of those movies where it was incredibly unclear whether it took place over two weeks or two years. People would say things of each other – after having been acquainted for what I had thought was five days – like "You know George. He'd never let you down. He'll be there," or "Harry's not a good person. I know that sounds bad, because he's my best friend, but....he doesn't do good things." (Which, what??)
Anyhow this is a movie about three dudes who move into Reese Witherspoon's guesthouse and mostly all fall in love with her. Reese Witherspoon occasionally rearranges swatches; this is the closest anyone comes to committing an act of Work, which I respect tremendously.
Here are, in no particular order, a succession of Feelings this movie awoke in me:
1. I am fairly certain that I loved the fact that part of the reason all three of the little dudes (who are 27 but everyone treats as if they were 19, but the best possible 19-year-olds imaginable, who don't own vases but who do go out of their way to make dinner and also do the dishes afterwards, and not in that sort of Look At Me I Did The Dishes way that I do the dishes, but happily and efficiently, and wiping the kitchen counters down afterwards) fall in love with Reese Witherspoon is because of her Lovely Mom Energy. The main dude, Harry, mostly falls in love with her because she did his laundry once, which is, YOU KNOW, NOT "GREAT," but I actually loved it??? Because she never did his laundry again, I don't think, but he just really RESPECTED and APPRECIATED the fact that she had done laundry, and he clearly found it kind of beautiful and moving and arousing, and I've never seen a movie where a forty-year-old woman does laundry and a man responds to her in that way.
1a. The boys just all get really excited about Mom Shit, you know? I don't know if this happened to you a lot, but a not-insignificant portion of my Midwestern childhood was spent at friends' houses whose moms would do things like put away their laundry for them, or go out of their way to make new and appealing dinners, or who would buy flowers at the Jewel-Osco, and were generally met with contempt for their efforts. And these little dudes, they just didn't know, and once they knew they were so excited. When they finally get their own place, they buy flowers, because Reese Witherspoon kept flowers in her house, and "we thought the flowers looked good, so we got flowers too."
2. This movie gets two demerits for the criminal underutilization of Candice Bergen and Lake Bell.
3. The three little dudes in this movie are like – it's the person your grandma thinks you are, you know? It is what your grandma thinks of you, that your projects are so great, that you made a movie, she doesn't remember about what, but you're always so helpful about the dishes and you're so tall, and so handsome! So polite, and you always wash your hands. I loved them with my whole heart. I loved them the way they loved Reese Witherspoon, which is different from the way that I love Reese Witherspoon, and by the time the movie was over, they were my family.
4. At one point, during a strangely-soundtracked montage, I found myself wondering whether all the scenes between Reese and Harry were supposed to take place over a single night, or over a period of months. "This house is Brigadoon," I whispered to myself in the theater. "Reese Witherspoon is Brigadoon."
5. I'm not particularly worried this will spoil anything significant for you, but at one point Reese Witherspoon tells Michael Sheen, who plays her estranged husband, that she's finally ready for a divorce. Remember how one of the best parts of the last Twilight movie was when he laughed? Once again, Michael Sheen makes a physical choice that feels like it belongs in a different movie, an insane movie, a movie I would pay in blood to see. His face slides back on his own skull, and he looks around with this delighted, demented little lizard-smile on his face, and he gleefully admits, "I would probably have just kept trying to weasel back into your life!" It made no sense for this movie, for him to do that, but it made perfect sense for me.
6. It's not not an extremely medicated Tea and Sympathy, which is one of my favorite movies, and which I have only ever been able to describe as "asking the question, 'What if you were so gay you had to fuck your mom?'" Which, you know: What if you were?
This movie has a happy ending. I wanted there to be more kissing, but you can't have everything.