Rites of passage

Kathmandu :

There is no such thing as perfection in art. There are merely attempts to achieve perfection, so House Of D is not perfect. But except for a little three handkerchief sentimentality, it’s a film you should really watch.

I loved it.

So does critic Tom Keogh who writes, “House of D is a bittersweet, moving story of an American expatriate’s painful decision to come to terms with the childhood he fled in early 1970s New York City. David Duchovny wrote and directed this comedy-drama; he also stars as the adult version of the film’s hero, Tom Warshaw, an illustrator who has spent most of his life in Paris and decides — on the occasion of his son’s birthday — to finally reveal long-withheld facts about his past. The bulk of the story, told in flashback, portrays 13-year-old Tom (Anton Yelchin) as a quick-witted prince of his neighbourhood, a delivery boy who knows every eccentric on his bicycle route and a Catholic school kid fond of playing pranks on his clueless French teacher and soulful principal (Frank Langella). His best friend is the school’s mildly retarded, 41-year-old janitor, Pappas (Robin Williams), and his advisor on matters of the heart is Lady (Erykah Badu), a prison inmate whom the fatherless Tom (or Tommy, as he’s called in 1973) can neither see nor touch. Tommy’s vivacity is an asset at home, where his mother (Tea Leoni), a grieving widow with a mounting addiction to pills, is slipping away from her son’s ability to help. Duchovny’s screenplay sometimes borders on the sentimental. Any flaws all but disappear in the glow of House of D’s emotional resonance and honesty, not to mention several exceptional performances. Among these is Zelda Williams’s work as Tommy’s sage-beyond-her-years girlfriend, Melissa.”

In Premiere, Peter Debruge reviewed House Of D by saying, “Few filmmakers seem to understand their teen heroes quite like Duchovny (the X Files star), a quality that has everything to do with the fact that he approaches his story from an actor’s point of view and presents things as his not-quite-13-year-old hero would feel them. Look at the way he refines his characters with weird and wonderful details: Tommy’s mother barges in to use the restroom while he showers, then drops her cigarette in the bowl when she’s finished. When Tommy urinates, he amuses himself by trying to sink the stubs floating on the surface. I can’t think of another movie that has paid attention to such intimacies, and yet, there’s a great deal we can conclude about Tommy and his mother from these candid moments. Here’s a boy awkwardly adjusting to the mysteries of puberty who, by the end of the film, will be faced with several extraordinarily serious decisions.”

In a BBC interview, actor-director Duchovny said, “This idea just happened. I was actually trying to produce another show, another movie, and it was kind of stalled. I thought, ‘Well, I’ve got these ideas I want to write about, and it is a coming-of-age story. I’ll write that now.’ Not to be mystical, but I think ideas choose you, you don’t really choose ideas. House of D depicts teenage rites of passage.”

About reviews Duchovny declared, “I think you’re always anxious. As much as I’d like to learn and know what people think — and I think you can learn from a review, good or bad — it’s just so painful, even the good ones, that I think I’ll try to stay away. I don’t know if I’ll have the willpower to stay away, but I would love to.”