Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the dark comedy short HOME EDUCATION by writer/director Andrea Niada. To best describe the story, I will turn to a slightly edited IMDB plot summary:
“An authoritarian mother and her inquisitive daughter keep their husband/father’s corpse in the attic, convinced that if they show how much they care for him, he’ll no doubt come back to life soon.”
Though this is definitely a comedy, there is a certain tragedy about the occurring events. This stems from the idea that the daughter knows her father is dead and not coming back while her rule making mother refuses to acknowledge his passing. By approaching the subject matter from this point of view, we are offered an interesting dynamic where the daughter seems to be more in tune with life than her delusional mother, leading to a clashing of the wills.
Now, I know this sounds incredibly dreary, but they approach this with some pretty solid comedy that is even more amusing if one pays attention to the sets. On seemingly every surface there is a note emphasizing some rule the mother has put into place to make sure that her daughter lives a clean, dirt free life. Right from the get go I found this humorous, but when the mother begins to “teach” her daughter about life, her certainty in her belief system combined with her outrageous theories/claims are laugh out loud funny.
The actresses in this piece handily sell the conceit, bringing just the right amount of charm to their roles. While she is the more quiet of the two, Kate Reed portrays her character as a young woman coming of age and beginning to question not just her parent’s authority, but also what she has been lead to believe about life. Her scenes questioning her authoritarian mother have an air of someone coming to terms with the idea that their parent might not have it all correct, instead of someone being contrary just to be contrary.
The mother, played by Jemma Churchill, is definitely the more difficult of the two roles as she has to bring humanity to an authoritarian figure. The funny part is, the majority of her humanity is achieved by her firm conviction in her beliefs, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. This fallibility brings sympathy to the character just by the fact that she cannot bring herself to accept the truth, as it means her rules/lifestyle is not always correct. The very thing that makes her amusing also makes her a tragic character.
All in all, this is an amusing coming of age story centered around death and letting go. The humor is on point throughout and the two lead actresses bring a lot of layers to an otherwise simple story. Fans of MOONRISE KINGDOM (2012) or DEAD LIKE ME (2003) will find this has a similar quality.
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