The second directorial project from Something Blue‘s Joe Johnson, House Finch follows a day in the life of a mother and her disabled son. Starring a staple of British television and theatre, Adjoa Andoh (Doctor Who, Liar) and Edward Bluemel who’s next to be seen in season two of the critically acclaimed Killing Eve and you may have spotted him in Netflix’s recent hit Sex Education.
A well-chosen font for the opening credits of a film always starts things off on the right foot and in this case immediately gives the film a welcome graceful air, furthered by the simple, smoothly flowing score. The credits are then followed by a captivating performance that’s leisure centre by way of arthouse, an unusual combination resulting in being both real, grounded and unique simultaneously. It’s great to see that the film highlights an array of disabilities within its short run time, however it would have been perhaps more satisfying to return to this opening scene and its consequences before the film’s conclusion but it’s left for the audience to discern the effect it will have on Penny (Adjoa Andoh). It’s clear what point that this scene serves and it’s acted wonderfully by Andoh but comes close to feeling disjointed to the rest of the film as it moves homeward.
As Penny returns to her home and her son (Bluemel), their relationship is captivating in its dedication and never-ending patience. A clear message of needing to keep a balance in your life, while she may have to give a lot of herself to her son’s care, she has to avoid letting it become all that she is because that would benefit neither of them. Andoh clearly demonstrates that struggle in the emotion she presents on screen, without ever needing to say it directly. As an audience you only see a brief moment in the life of its protagonist but it’s a poignant snapshot that has a lot to say with its limited time. Bluemel’s performance is done well but with the film so tightly focused on Andoh, it’s understated and does not become about him, rather solidly a story of a mother’s love.
House Finch presented new challenges for budding filmmaker Johnson but it also continued the striking intimacy of his first short film, wherever the shot, it remains close and refuses to relinquish that intimacy. The film holds a lot of emotion while refraining from becoming overwrought by it, we see the world it portrays strongly through the eyes of Andoh’s Penny, and when it fades to black it leaves you wondering where life will take her next.
Watch the trailer here: