April 5, 2005 - by chrisnu

House of D is a coming-of-age tale done well in that it isn't doesn't glamorize childhood, or glaze over traumatic childhood experiences. At the same time, it isn't drowned entirely in plight, and contains plenty of bawdy, wry humor that children enjoy, and don't tell their parents about. Anton Yelchin was an excellent fit for the role of Tommy. He portrays the physical and emotional awkardness of adolescence very well. Also very well-done is the use of popular music from the 1970s to accentuate the mood throughout.

While other elements of the movie may seem hackneyed (the young boy bonding with an older man-child, the burnt-out single mother), it's acted well. Tea Leoni hasn't been better in her brief role as Tommy's mother, on whom Tommy is reliant, is needed, and held back from the freedom he wishes for. The narrative device of Tommy receiving sage advice from a street-savvy inmate of the Women's House of Detention felt stagy. Despite a good performance from Erykah Badu, such a contrivance took away from the emotional honesty of the rest of the picture.

Additionally, the inclusion of Duchovny himself as the older Tommy proves to be problematic. The movie opens with a dry, prosaic monologue, feeling far too out of place with the story of youth to come. Also, the theme of coming full circle is taken much too far in an overlong denouement, which tries too hard in making unnecessary parallels to the adolescent storyline, including repeating some of the same jokes which just didn't work in the new context.

Despite its faults, House of D was an enjoyable watch, and hopefully will lead to more Duchovny-penned pictures in the future.

My rating: 6.5 out of 10