TCFF Day 4: Review of Minnesota Feature ‘Finding Home’

We’re exactly in the halfway mark of our 9-day film fest! Today TCFF is featuring a Minnesota feature that’s filmed in just 10 days in Minnesota and Wisconsin, with a location crew of 13 (including the Director and Producer – all from Minnesota) and 1 camera (RedCam) and a budget of under $50K. During the Educational Panel: MN Filmmakers last Saturday, director Chars Bonin shared some insights into his experience shooting in an absolute remote location, and how they were blessed with good weather and no rain as it would’ve wrecked havoc on their schedule and budget.

I don’t know how to categorize Finding Home, it’s the kind of film that starts out as one thing and in the end it sort of shifts to become something else entirely. Wesley (Brian John Evans) & Katie (Lindsay Marcy) seems like a happy couple who’s going on a camping trip on a remote island in the Boundary Waters area in Northern Minnesota. Right away you get the sense that Katie isn’t as excited about the trip as Wesley is, and as time goes on, it’s obvious that something is bothering her.

Once they get to the camp site, it doesn’t take long before they start bickering and the more Wesley prods his girlfriend and find out what’s on her mind, the more Katie pushes him away. It’s an intriguing character study of two people who are on two different state of mind, seems that even though they’re physically together, they’re not moving in the same directions. Wesley is the picture of a perfect boyfriend, not only is he gorgeous but he’s unbelievably patient with the testy Katie and her mood swings. The tormented Katie can’t seem to get out of whatever it is she’s going through, and I must admit I became irritated with her and wants her to just snap out of it already.

This simmering conflict is set against the backdrop of an absolutely gorgeous Autumn scenery. It’s as if the peaceful setting of the tranquil lake and serene woods is contrasted with the tumult that Wesley and Katie is going through. For 90% of the 90-minute film, we are only seeing these two people interacting with each other on screen and nothing else except nature that surrounds them. So it’s key that we actually care for the characters and want to know just exactly what’s going on between them. Fortunately the two lead actors managed to do just that. I found out later that Evans and Marcy have not acted before in a feature film, that’s quite impressive given that both of them have to carry the movie only with their performances to rely on.

As I’ve alluded to before, the film shifts its tone in about the last third of the film and I feel that it’s a bit too abrupt for my liking. I saw this film before watching/reading anything about the film and I was quite taken aback by it. I think the less you know about it the better so I’m not going to delve into the plot any further other than it deals with quite a dark and controversial topic that would understandably make or break even the closest of relationships.

I think Bonin did a decent job in his first feature film, and he’s certainly got talent in getting good performances out of actors, though I have to admit it drags quite a bit in parts. Overall it just wasn’t gripping enough to keep my interest so I think the editing could’ve been a whole lot tighter than it is. I feel that there are far too many indulgent scenes, if you will, andthe overly s-l-o-w pace threatens to grind the film to a halt.

Still I think it’s a worthwhile effort and the cinematography is beautiful! I’m certainly glad TCFF hosts its world premiere here in town. Hopefully this will inspire other filmmakers to shoot their films here in my neck of the woods!

2.5 out of 5 reels

Check out fellow TCFF blogger Mitch’s review of Finding Home

Here’s the behind-the-scenes video at the end of the review with filmmaker Chars Bonin who wrote and directed the film:

Thoughts on this movie? Do share your thoughts in the comments.

13 thoughts on “TCFF Day 4: Review of Minnesota Feature ‘Finding Home’

    1. Yeah, as we discussed, I think this being Bonin’s first film, he could only improve on it. That said, I think the casting of Wesley and the scenery makes it a worthwhile effort.

    1. Yeah, 9 days of fun fest 🙂

      I don’t mind a shift in tone but I think it takes a special skill to pull it off without making it look jarring, I didn’t feel like it was achieved here.

  1. PrairieGirl

    Well, not too sure what to say about the film itself, but admit that what really interests me is the way it brings back to mind the times I spent in the pristine Boundary Waters doing just what Wesley and Katie are doing: camping, canoeing, portaging (and let’s not forget… battling mosquitos). I could see it just for the scenery. I’m just hoping it doesn’t end up like Deliverance!

    1. Oh yeah, the Boundary Waters scenery are marvelous. I could see how that’ll be quite nostalgic for you Becky. I haven’t seen Deliverance so you have to tell me what that ending is 🙂

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