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August 11, 2014

Movie Review: Home, James (2014)

Directed by Jonathan Rossetti

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell
James (played by director Jonathan Rossetti) is an aspiring fine art photographer who lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He pays the bills by working as a sober driver, trolling the pubs of the downtown area, offering rides to inebriated club goers. It is in this seedy milieu that he meets Cooper (Kerry Knuppe), a woman who likes her liquor and high times. James plugs away at his photography career while dating the carefree Cooper, until he gets a break with a major gallery owner. Matching Cooper drink-by-drink, James stumbles and falls and realizes he must divest himself from what is essentially a toxic, dead-end relationship.

Home, James is a microscopic budget indie romance and labor of love currently making the film festival rounds. Its story is simple and stark, and the performers are able to pull off the subtle gradations of infatuation, romance, love and alienation in a compelling manner. Director-writer-star Rossetti seems a bit too old to be playing a conflicted twenty-something artist. Co-star Knuppe has probably tired of being told how much she resemble Julia Roberts. As befitting a story about a photographer, the cinematography by George Su is gorgeous. Especially noteworthy are the scenes set at dawn, where the young lovers are bathed in exterior scenes doused in rosy hues of peach and red.

More importantly, Home, James doesn’t shy away from what the story is REALLY about: the high cost of alcoholism in American society. James dreary “day” job, which has him working in the wee hours of the morning picking up those too drunk to drive, is in service of a somewhat shameful secret of many U.S. downtown economies, bars and taverns that over-serve customers for profit. James is acutely aware of this fact when he meets Cooper, a good-time gal who fuels this economic arrangement. Cooper is apparently in the first or second stages of alcoholism when James first meets her. She drinks in the morning for the express purpose of getting drunk, and seizes any and every opportunity to celebrate. James plays along with this, but then to make some extremely bad decisions while inebriated – and isn’t given a second chance after he sobers up. The subject matter of his final photography exhibit – stumble drunks he meets in downtown Tulsa brings him into an awareness of where’s he headed if he doesn’t cut it off with Cooper. Surprisingly, this message is delivered in a non-judgmental manner, and is presented matter-of-factly without underlining in its story.

Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, Home, James is available on VOD. Home, James tells a simple story within the framework of a much larger, important story and is highly worthwhile.

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