A Place Called Home (2004)
Home Sweet Home
On one hand "A Place Called Home" is a very obvious, pleasant afternoon TV movie about lost souls. There is a widow who is really just waiting for the inevitable happen and then there are a drifter and his daughter who keep shifting from town to town. And as such there is something obvious about the storyline as these lost souls connect and find a reason to live and make a go of things.
But then "A Place Called Home" has another side an almost western side because we have the storyline of a business man and woman who will stoop to anything to get the widow's home. And so we have this story of them trying to force the widow out and threatening those who are close to the widow. If you've seen a few 50s westerns you will recognize all of this but it works nicely as a theme which interweaves with that of the lost souls to create a movie which is pleasant and charming.
With her eye sight failing Tula (Ann-Margret - Any Given Sunday) has resigned herself to the inevitable living a solitary life in her large lake side home. But despite her frailties she refuses to back down over leaving her home especially as her niece and nephew Billie (Hunter Tylo) and Dave (Sean O'Bryan) are hanging around like vultures to get their hands on the property. Then one day Hank (Matthew Settle) and Cali (Shailene Woodley), a father and daughter who are drifters, show up at her door and whilst cautious of being conned takes them in offering them bed and board in return for Hank helping to fix her home. It is the start of a new chapter in every one's lives much to the annoyance of Billie and Dave who are determined to get their Aunt out and get her home.
Now the thing about "A Place Called Home" is that it is very obvious and it is less than subtle in setting things up so that whilst we may meet Tula who is not going to fight her failing sight you know that at some point she will find a reason to fight on. The same can be said when Hank and Cali show up as whilst they initially come across as a couple of hustlers it doesn't take long for Cali to bond with Tula as an almost surrogate family. And when it comes to Tula's niece and nephew Billie and Dave you also know that all they are after is Tula's lakeside home and will stoop to anything to get it, from bribing the sheriff to threatening a social worker.
As such "A Place Called Home" plays out in a very predictable manner with very few surprises along the way. But then you get a sense that this is a movie which whilst having this reasonable storyline is more about the feel. When we meet Tula we fall instantly for this plucky older woman and equally fall for her wonderful home by the lake. We also warm to Hank and Cali especially as Cali bonds with Tula as if she was her grandmother. And when it comes to Billie and Dave they are text book evil business people who are selfish, vindictive and deserve being taught a lesson, perfect villains for what is a movie which is all about delivering charm and warmth.
Now a huge reason why "A Place Called Home" is so good is because of Ann-Margret as Tula who it has to be said looks absolutely stunning. But it is more than just a look because Ann-Margret creates this character who has different layers, there is the almost quirkiness to her, living all alone in this huge house, there is also her pluckiness as she refuses to back down when it comes to losing her home but there is also a vulnerable side as she deals with her failing sight. In fact whilst the rest of the cast which includes Gary Sandy, Shailene Woodley, Matthew Settle and Hunter Tylo all deliver entertaining characters it is Ann-Margret who gives the movie its warmth and fun.
What this all boils down to is that "A Place Called Home" is a charming little TV movie perfect for a lazy afternoon. It is simple, fun and pleasant and features a lovely performance from Ann-Margret as the wonderful Tula.
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