Contemporary World Cinema

Homesick

Anne Sewitsky

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Bedevilled by shared demons, a young woman and her half-brother find comfort with each other, in this brooding, sharply detailed study of incest from Norwegian director Anne Sewitsky.

A brooding and sharply detailed study of incest, Anne Sewitsky's Homesick focuses on Charlotte (Ine Wilmann), a young woman whose happy-go-lucky exterior masks an enormous amount of rage and pain — much of it directed towards her mother (Anneke von der Lippe), a caustic academic who heaps scorn on all those around her.

Charlotte has no outlet or salve for her anger in the people around her: her mother isn't exactly one for listening to or caring about other people's problems; her father is dying; her best friend Marte (Silje Storstein) has recently gotten married and is now too busy; and even her shrink cuts her short. Enter one of the few people who understands Charlotte's pain: her standoffish half-brother Henrik (Simon J. Berger), who was abandoned by Charlotte's mother at a young age and who pines for an imaginary, impossible home life in the same way Charlotte does. This shared yearning brings the two closer and closer together, until they are finally tempted to violate one of humanity's oldest taboos.

With a uniformly strong cast headlined by the remarkable Wilmann — making her screen debut with a bold and uninhibited performance — nuanced direction by Sewitsky (who more than delivers on the promise of her 2011 Sundance prizewinner Happy, Happy) and a tough and insightful script from the director and her co-writer, Ragnhild Tronvoll, Homesick goes beyond the forbidden relationship of Charlotte and Henrik to take aim at some of the larger problems of modern life: its crushing pace, its refusal to make room for issues that can't be solved easily or quickly, and its conception of "freedom" as meaning nothing more than the absence of responsibility.

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