Kevin Kline, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Hayden Christensen star in Life as a House, a compelling and entertaining drama about the willpower of one man who could just as easily have none.
Life as a House is about George, a divorced father who knows he is going to die in a matter of months. His relationship with his ex-wife isn't that bad, but his son is a rebellious loner, resorting to prostitution to be able to buy drugs. But when George decides to buy a house, the pieces of his shattered life begin to come together, rebuilding themselves after many years.
Life as a House is amusing in sort of a dark kind of way. There are some shocking moments, like the realization that the son is so desperate for drugs that he will sell himself. There are some other strange sexual encounters, mainly focused around Jena Malone's character, a 16-year old girl that seems awfully mature about her age and doesn't mind flaunting her features. Most importantly, there is some great dialogue, as George grapples between being an asshole and a loving father.
In a movie like this, the acting is everything. Kevin Kline shines, showing every side of the human character possible. He is funny, sad, desperate and accepting all at the same time, and for the most part, Kline pulls it off well. There are a few parts where what he does doesn't make a lot of sense, but then again those are flaws in the story or character, not him.
Hayden Christenson steals the show with his stunning portrayal of Sam, a rebellious teenager who doesn't know what he is life in like. It is intriguing to watch his character change over the course of two hours, from a boy who barely speaks to a loving son that is starting to look normal. Of course, if you think about it, this is the opposite of his character development in Star Wars (he is to be Darth Vader, maybe one of the most coveted roles in movie history). As of writing this review, I had just seen Star Wars: Episode II a few weeks prior, and I am beginning to like him more and more. Many have criticized his acting in that movie that will always get criticism, but he really isn't any different here; he just has a better script to work with.
Life as a House is a great piece of work, easy to watch and easy to enjoy, even if it is a sad tale. More than anything else, it is important to watch for the acting, since that is what really brings it to life.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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