Sex, money, power, status, friendship and the journey to find one's true self are themes explored in the kick-ass film Homecoming that makes the Heathers look like novices. It tells the story of a woman tied to her family. Due to her husband's burgeoning career, she is always moving from place to place.
This leaves her feeling isolated and unable to identify herself vis-à-vis society. Incomplete and unnerved, she finds her life headed for a new and exhilarating change as she finds a group of female friends who instantly take her in as one of their own.
The cost of the friendships is at the core of the storyline as Lauren Bowles character Joy finds herself in a state of mania feeling more beautiful and powerful than she ever imagined. As her new personality begins to hemorrhage tearing her family life apart, she struggles to choose between her erupting future and her anemic past.
The mainly female cast explores the female archetypes in ways rarely seen. Written by two women, Sarah Hehman and Christi Sperry, the film approaches the feminine mystique in a way that is more nuanced than typically seen in male-written female stories, rare as those are.
Rather than fulfilling singular functions as the mute girlfriend or love interest, the film delves into the interpersonal relationships of women who fulfill a multitude of roles from housewife to friend, mother, and daughter.
Each of these relationships informs on the characters as they see-saw between their different roles in desperate attempts to not be torn asunder. Some of the women find themselves numb, seeking out mischief to pull at the live blood beneath their dead flesh.
Victoria Smurfit plays the brilliant and diabolical Nikki unhinged and alive on the surface, but frozen as glacier beneath it. She is selfish, impatient, and cunning. She is your unrealized dream and can be a nightmare to others.
In contrast, Joy is controlled and forward thinking. She's not happy, but at least she's coping. Looking for herself in others, Joy seems stumped by the world that she's seems to fit in all to well. Who are you, if everyones like you? What's the point?
I spoke with Bowles and Smurfit about why such dynamic female characters are so rare and unexpected.
"I don't think women are going to be surprised with the way that women are portrayed. I think it's going to shock the men. Because, any thinking, workingwoman over the age of 38 is going to go--Yeah Baby! I think the men are going to go shit, we gotta up our game," commented Smurfit. "Here's the thing, we don't need you dudes."
The comment could be the films motto. Women in this movie are not the appendages of men. They're stand-alone multi-faceted human beings who can play both savior and damsel in distress not only to each other but also to themselves.
Ironically, the film is directed by a man--Paul Kampf. I spoke with both Kampf about how his experiences with women, including his two daughters, have shaped his mission to obtain equal pay for women and bring more realistic and well-rounded portrayals of females to the big screen.
"I see how hard it is for women to get opportunities, women with whom I've worked with, artists that I find to be amazingly talented, I see the struggle, and I see how hard it is," stated Kampf. "What I sort of took for granted was a world in which everyone had equal opportunity, really isn't."