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Where the Heart Is Reviews

Vilified by critics upon its release, John Boorman's delightfully farcical rumination on the contradictions of the bourgeois family deserves the second chance video stores now offer. Dabney Coleman is Stewart McBain, the prosperous owner of a demolition company who lives in New York with his wife Jean (Joanna Cassidy), and their three children, Chloe (Suzy Amis), Jimmy (David Hewlett), and Daphne (Uma Thurman), all in their early twenties. As the film opens, Stewart's plans to make way for a new development are thwarted when a community group succeeds in getting landmark status for a historic structure on the block. On the home front, Stewart is exasperated with his children's indolence and banishes them to the landmarked building, now abandoned and dilapidated. With no means of support, the kids are forced to rely on wit and talent to survive; meanwhile, Stewart loses his company to a predatory corporate raider and finds himself homeless. After a series of highly original plot developments, a reunited family succeeds in reimagining the American Dream. As a followup to his highly successful autobiographical film HOPE AND GLORY, Boorman here continued to work in a seriocomic vein, after years of creating violent adventures such as DELIVERANCE, POINT BLANK, and EXCALIBUR. Coleman is ideally suited to playing Stewart McBain, the gruff, defiant entrepreneur who is at odds with and baffled by current society. Christopher Plummer is a delight as the philosphical bum whose bathroom habits earn him the nickname of "Shitty." The rest of the cast--even the erratic Crispin Glover--is charming. The screenplay, which Boorman co-wrote with his daughter Telsche, offers a fresh story and a satirical touch so light and empathetic that the viewer may well be reminded of Shakespearian comedy. The nicely realized visuals include a series of trompe l'oeil paintings, ingeniously incorporating the bodies of cast members, executed by Timna Woolard.