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THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU

SYNOPSIS: When their father passes away, four grown siblings are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens.

Review by Louise Keller:
Laugh or cry, there's no correct response, says Jane Fonda's matriarch Hillary, in this hilarious expose of a dysfunctional family thrown together at close quarters. For the audience, there is more laughter than tears, although at one moment towards the film's end involving an electrical short fuse in the basement, I teared up. Jonathan Tropper's adaptation of his dense novel flows beautifully as story strands involving each member of the Altman family are intricately woven together, each with tragi-comic results. In director Shawn Levy's hands, there's a wonderful sense of motion as slick lines are flung, family secrets are revealed and the incongruous becomes the natural state. It's caustic fun on rapids.

The film starts with a bang, when Jason Bateman's Judd discovers his wife having sex with his boss and radio jock (Dax Shepard). The news from his sister Wendy (Tina Fey) that their father has just died follows closely. It's an incongruous juxtaposition. Then comes the family reunion; the funeral and subsequent scenes are overshadowed by the incessant references to Hillary's new big boobs. (Fonda looks fabulous and shines brightly at the comic material.) The construct is a Jewish Shiva, forcing the family and siblings to bunk down together, allowing an opportunity for tempers to fray, old grievances to be aired and the complicated nature of the relationships exposed. Secrets are cancer to a family, states Hillary, whose psychology background was put to good use when she revealed intimate details about each member of the family in her best-selling novel, Cradle & All. The fact that Fonda's extravagant cleavage monopolises many scenes, is a saucy distraction.

Judd, having always chased the perfect life, has never done 'complicated', but things are about to change as 'complicated' becomes his buzz-word. Penny (Rose Byrne, delightful), who formerly dated Judd and runs the local ice-skating rink, is part of that complication. 'Why are you dating your mother?' is one of the film's best lines, delivered by Fey, who spits it out to her younger 'screw-up' brother Phillip (Adam Driver) in reference to his Porsche-driving cougar (Connie Britton). Other story strands include brother Paul (Corey Stoll) and his anxious baby-hungry wife Annie (Kathryn Hahn) and Wendy's former lover, the handsome neighbor Horry (Timothy Olyphant), who was left with brain damage after an accident years ago.

With all the dirty laundry on the table - so to speak - it is then a matter for the washing to begin. Punch-ups take place, weed is smoked, marriages fall apart and Bateman and Fey have their agreeable exchanges sitting on the rooftop late at night. It's all good stuff. The potty-training toddler is the only member of the family who is not sad, angry, lying or cheating. The surprises never stop coming; the best one is kept for last.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU (M)
(US, 2014

CAST: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn

PRODUCER: Shawn Levy, Paula Weinstein

DIRECTOR: Shawn Levy

SCRIPT: Jonathan Tropper (novel by Jonathan Tropper)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Terry Stacey

EDITOR: Dean Zimmerman

MUSIC: Michael Giacchino

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ford Wheeler

RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 23, 2014







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