Saturday, February 20, 2010

Review: Coming Home (1978)

I had been (literally) hunting for this movie for at least 2 years until I finally had the opportunity to watch it. It always get away from me, but finally I won and not the movie, so I managed to watch it.
Sally (Jane Fonda) is a naive housewife whose husband (Bruce Dern) goes to Vietnam. While he's away, Jane becomes a volunteer at a veteran hospital, where she accidentally meets her old schoolmate (Jon Voight) who palalyzed because of a metal in his back. Soon they old friendship turns into a romantic and passionate affair until Sally's crazy husband comes home.
I had extremely high expectations before watching this movie and considering the fact how much I waited for it, it makes sense. However, I was a tiny bit disappointed. I knew that it would not be better than The Deer Hunter (which beat it in the Best Picture race), but somehow I expected much more. Actually I believe that it's basically the performances of the two Oscar-winners that makes this movie really worth watching. Because they are brilliant indeed.
Jon Voight is exceptional: his last scene is really moving, and even though I got a bit less from him than I expected, I was very satisified with him and I think he really deserved that Oscar. He successfully avoided the traps that this charcter involved in it. He's never overacting for a second and he perfectly gets across this person's anger, disappointement and hope. This was truly great work.
Jane Fonda (a true favorite of mine) is also extraordinary. In her case I expected less from her as this win of hers is not as popular as the first one and I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that actually she was excellent. Apart from the way she moves her hands in the big confrontation scene in the end, her acting is flawless. In another year, she would be my pick, but I don't think that the Academy should have ignored Ingrid Bergman's once-in-a-lifetime performance. Great job, though.
The two other nominated supporting players did not impress me very much: Bruce Dern is very good in some of his scenes, but contrary to Jon Voight, he really overacts sometimes. Although he has his moments, I don't understand why some people prefer him to the brilliant Christopher Walken.
Penelope Milford's nomination was completely unworthy. It's not that she's bad, I just wasn't impressed by her the least. And I think that the far more deserving Angela Lansbury should have been nominated for Death on the Nile instead of Milford (watch that movie, she's hilarious).
Hal Ashby's direction is accurate, reliable and nomination-worthy, but an Oscar would have been too much. However, I feel that the screenplay may have deserved the Oscar: the scenes are terrificly written and I think that in its characters there's a heartbreaking truth and this is a great achievement. But I'm not 100% sure if it's better than The Deer Hunter.
But again, even though the beginning is rather slow and the movie is not the greatest one ever, the truly emotional second part is terrific. Good job.
My Grade: 8/10 Good job, again.
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Director (Hal Ashby); Best Actor (Voight, WON); Best Actress (Fonda, WON); Best Supporting Actor (Bruce Dern); Best Supporting Actress (Penelope Milford); Best Original Screenplay (WON), Best Editing
My Wins: Actor for Voight


Anonymous said...

I agree with you on all accounts. Voight deserved it, Fonda was great, but shouldn't have won, and Milford's nomination is rather pointless.

joe burns said...

I'll be seeing this soon, since I'm going to finish up the 70's Best Actress winners.