Film Reviews

HOUSE OF D

By • Apr 15th, 2005 •

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Running time — 97 minutes / MPAA rating: PG-13

A 13 year old has a homosexual retarded 41 year-old best friend and a sexually inappropriate mother. If this is Duchovny’s psycho-sexual autobiography, be forewarned: this is creepy stuff.

Tom Warshaw (David Duchovny) is an artist living in Paris. He is a negligent father. On his own son’s thirteenth birthday, he decides to come clean to his wife Coralie (Magali Amadei)about a secret he has been keeping since he was thirteen. It turns out to be a creepy “unmentionable” crime.

Tommy (Anton Yelchin) lives in Greenwich Village with his castrating mother (Tea Leoni). She is suicidal and takes pills. She casually uses the toilet whenever Tommy is showering; in fact, he can’t keep her out of the bathroom when he is in there. When Tommy is not urinating, he is looking at his mother’s cigarette butts in the toilet. They wrestle on her bed. He sleeps under her bed.

Tommy goes to a Catholic boy’s school where the janitor is his next-door neighbor Pappass (Robin Williams). Pappass may be retarded, but he is also ambitious. Tommy and Pappass deliver meat after school. The butcher’s wife is a sardonic and sexy Parisian woman, who inspires Tommy to spend his life in Paris. Tommy has another “friend.” She’s “Lady Bernadette” (Erykah Badu – all noble in moody, extreme close-ups), an inmate at the Women’s House of Detention. She might be in solitary confinement but she spends a lot of time shouting sage advice to Tommy.

Don’t go to an inmate for advice.

The story slowly maunders around until Tommy meets Melissa (Zelda Williams) and he needs to learn how to dance for the school dance. When Pappass sees Tommy with Melissa, he gets very upset and steals a bicycle. Tommy tells the school principal, Rev. Duncan (Frank Langella), he stole the bike to save Pappass’s janitorial job. He is aware that confessing to this will affect his scholarship and his mother’s future college plans for him. He doesn’t care how it will affect his crazy, unstable mother.

Tommy sure gets even with Mom. Who is Duchovny getting even with?

Write about what you know, they always say. Then, play the grown-up part yourself. Cast your wife as your character’s sexually inappropriate mother. Freud could have done a whole chapter on the film’s writer/director’s libido!

If this is pure fiction, why is Tommy’s “best friend” a 41 year-old retarded man? It might keep the sexual relationship innocent, but actually, it heightens the scent of it. When you are writing and directing your first feature, make sure you stick in a really cool location for a few weeks filming. As the star of this project, Duchovny knows he has to end the film with himself as the mature Tom returning to Greenwich Village to re-visit his home, Pappass, and, gasp!, digging up “Lady Yoda”!

Greenwich Village in the 70s was not as sterile as portrayed here, and the House of D never looked so quaint. I should know: In the 80s I used to pass by it every day on my way to the New York Athletic Club. Duchovny looks rakish in his goatee pedaling through Paris, and Leoni knows her angular, water-deprived face and curt voice is well suited to a role written especially for her by her husband. Williams should have passed on this role. By now, he is so well known for exaggerated mannerisms that everything he does with this role screams “I’m acting here!”


Cast:
Tommy: Anton Yelchin
Mrs. Warshaw: Tea Leoni
Tom Warshaw: David Duchovny
Pappass: Robin Williams
Coralie Warshaw: Magali Amadei
Lady Bernadette: Erykah Badu
Rev. Duncan: Frank Langella
Melissa: Zelda Williams

Credits:
Director-screenwriter: David Duchovny
Producers: Richard B. Lewis, Bob Yari, Jane Rosenthal
Director of photography: Michael Chapman
Editor: Suzy Elmiger
Music: Geoff Zanelli
Production designer: Lester Cohen

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