My House is a fictional study of the various people who have lived in filmmaker Charlotte Lubert‘s Hollywood home since the 1930s including Charlie Chaplin, Carole Lombard, and William Powell. What becomes apparent early on, is that each set of inhabitants share common threads, usually related to the film industry and usually negative.
Scenes from these troubled stories are interleaved together and the camera drifts from room to room observing the residents through the years, in what appears to be one long take (eagle-eyed viewers might spot the clever invisible cuts). In fact, the (mostly) smooth camera work and cinematography give the feel of a short film rather than a play. There’s something fascinatingly voyeuristic about the lingering, tracking camera movements and unguarded conversations. The blend of timeframes is also interesting, especially as we move all the way up to the present day, and there is careful attention to detail in terms of hair, makeup, and costume. Many of the actors are also skilled in impersonation and their use of anachronistic dialect.
The key focus that seems to emerge as the play progresses is that of the women. They are often disregarded by the men in their lives and present as tenacious, headstrong characters. This is certainly the central theme come the film’s climax when things take an oddly supernatural turn. The finale takes place in the house’s kitchen with a seance. At this point, the women from across timeframes communicate with one another, bonded by their experiences. It becomes a little twee and feels disjointed from the historical slant the play began with.
There is an interesting premise here and plenty to savour visually. Overall, it feels like more dynamism could be drawn from such fertile history, though. The split between so many stories means none of them really get the chance to grip us or encourage us to invest. It’s engaging enough but a little anticlimactic, unfortunately.