‘Home is Where the Heart Is’ (Previously known as ‘Watercolor Postcards’) is a charming, though turbulent, story about the possibilities of hope and change after life altering tragedy. It is a genuine and realistic film that beautifully explicates small town life without getting overly mushy or sweet.
Sunny (Laura Bell Bundy) returns to her small hometown for a final goodbye to her dying mother, after fleeing years before to become an actress. Her arrival is too late, and what set out to be a short three-day trip turns into something else. Sunny is forced to accept guardianship of the ten-year-old half sister she never knew, Cotton (Bailee Madison), and face the idea of relocating back to Bent Arrow. Small town life is hard for Sunny, and Cotton decides to take it on herself to set her sister up with her older friend, Butch (Conrad Goode).
Interspersed with the story of Sunny and Cotton are the overarching troubles of the Bent Arrow itself. It is in the throes of a financial crisis with most of its businesses on the verge of foreclosure. The inhabitants are a closed-knit bunch that rely on and support each other. Their futures are intertwined, and if they are going to revitalize the town without losing their livelihoods it must be a group effort.
‘Home’ has a slow pace, but this feels intentional as it offers a chance for the characters to develop and their relationships to feel real. Its biggest flaw is that it attempts to pack in too much. Subplots pop up and disappear throughout. Some are necessary, and others just feel forced. The necessary subplots feel like they were robbed by all of the unnecessary ones. They just don’t get the development they need. The abundance of subplots also makes it necessary for the film to get forceful with their introduction so it can pack them all in. This disrupts what is typically a good flow to the story, and it also burdens the realism the film strives so hard for.
There are a lot of hard topics covered throughout ‘Home,’ including alcoholism, drugs, domestic abuse, and death. While some of the scenes do get pretty intense the film handles these issues well and is able to balance them against its realism and general appeal.
The film’s acting is pretty top notch. Bailee Madison gives an excellent standout performance as 10-year old Cotton. Jonathan Banks and John C. McGinley are both fantastic in their respective roles, delivering great performances with hints of comedy and sweetness. The interplay between Laura Bell Bundy and Conrad Goode does not have the chemistry that it could have had, but they both still deliver believable performances.
‘Home is Where the Heart Is’ is an enjoyable film that sticks with you after watching it. While it may not do everything right, it does more than enough to be entertaining and real.