What could have been another unremarkable addition to the "feisty old lady" TV-movie genre is saved by Anne Bancroft, who paints a corrosive portrait of a resentful, solitary soul furious at being interrupted by visitors. Dicey Tillerman (Kimberlee Petersen) is a teenager in trouble. She and her siblings have been abandoned in the family car by their mentally...read more
What could have been another unremarkable addition to the "feisty old lady" TV-movie genre is saved by Anne Bancroft, who paints a corrosive portrait of a resentful, solitary soul furious at being interrupted by visitors.
Dicey Tillerman (Kimberlee Petersen) is a teenager in trouble. She and her siblings have been abandoned in the family car by their mentally ill mother. But Dicey resolves to visit their Aunt Cilla in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She pushes younger siblings James (Trevor O'Brien), Maybeth (Hanna Hall),
and Sammy (William Greenblatt) on a grueling pilgrimage. Penniless and starving, the brood is befriended by a Yale University student, Windy (Scott Michael Campbell), who drives them to Aunt Cilla's place.
Although Aunt Cilla is deceased, her daughter, Eunice (Bonnie Bedelia), takes temporary custody of the children. But her refusal to care for the boys on a long-term basis forces Dicey to seek their only other living relative, Grandma Ab (Anne Bancroft). Pocketing money awarded them for their
impounded family car, the Tillerman kids board the bus for reclusive Ab's ramshackle farm in Crisfield, Maryland.
Inhospitable Grandma Ab allows Dicey to prolong the children's visit, but insists that she's too old and miserable to raise kids again. Carving out a niche through hard chores, the Tillermans are devastated to learn that their mother has turned up in a mental hospital, in a catatonic state. Just
as Ab is shipping her downtrodden grandchildren back to Eunice, she has a change of heart at the bus stop and determines to accept responsibility for them after all.
For much of its running time, HOMECOMING is predictably full of the ragamuffin pluckiness and widder-woman grousing that are associated with Hallmark Hall of Fame family-friendly TV presentations. Having premiered on the prestige-hungry USA Channel, HOMECOMING expends too much energy on the
inspirational aspects of these quasi-orphans trudging along America's highways.
When the children arrive to an unwelcoming reception at Granny's, however, the film becomes a touching reconciliatory yarn. Bancroft bravely lays Granny's cards on the table. Ab is a truculent woman honest enough to admit her relief at the death of her esteem-sucking husband. In one scene that can
be called an acting epiphany, Bancroft redefines her coldness toward Dicey as a cultivated fear of rearing more traumatized children like her institutionalized daughter.
Vibrating with enough melodramatics to reward those so inclined, HOMECOMING is worth watching, particularly for Bancroft's translucent performance. (Profanity, adult situations.)
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