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Life As A House (2001)

DVD Cover (New Line Studios)
Drama, Family Drama, Medical Drama
Irwin Winkler Irwin Winkler
Kevin Kline Kevin Kline
Kristin Scott Thomas Kristin Scott Thomas
Hayden Christensen Hayden Christensen
Jena Malone Jena Malone
Mary Steenburgen Mary Steenburgen

7.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: May 26, 2005
I have read so many reviews of "Life As A House" and have come to the conclusion that the critics seem to be pretty well split--they either love it or hate it. I've heard some say it is the best film since "American Beauty", while I have heard others say it plays like a Lifetime TV movie of the week. I judged for myself.

"Life As A House" is an unusual movie. Kevin Kline stars as George Monroe, an overworked, estranged man who finds out that he doesn't have long to live. So, he decides to pursue his lifelong dream of building a home. Sounds easy, huh? Wrong. George finds contentment from family, friends, neighbors, and the authorities--all seeming to not want the house built. The building of the house is a metaphor for George's life and George is portrayed in a touching, comedic, and miraculous performance by one of the greatest American actors today, Kevin Kline.

Kristin Scott Thomas co-stars as George's ex-wife who use to share his dream of building the house. Hayden Christensen stars as George's dark clothes wearing, pill popping son Sam, and the vivacious Mary Steenburgen stars as a sexy neighbor, pretty much reprising the same role she had in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" Director Irwin Winkler does a fantastic job of not letting this film get too sappy--it could have easily turned into another "Sweet November" or "Autumn in New York", but steered clear of such a disastrous end.

The comedy in this film is so sincere and so unexpected at time that there is a visible natural chemistry between all of the actors, especially between Thomas and Kline. Steenburgen is delightful, as always, and Hayden Christensen pulls a tour-de-force in his first major film role.

After seeing the film, I sat down and re-read some of the reviews for the film and realized that most of the critics who gave the film a negative review were evidently expecting something completely different. I don't know if they went in expecting a hilarious comedy or what, but they missed the entire point of the film altogether. I must agree with the critics who lean towards "Life As A House" being the best film since "American Beauty", even though I don't totally agree with that.

"Life As A House" makes you laugh, makes you cry, and make you re-evaluate the relationships you maintain with your family. The outcome of the film is inevitable and I don't want to give anything away that the trailers already don't, but let's just say there was not a dry eye in the theater when I watched it. This film is extraordinarily touching and truly one of the best films of the year. 10/10.
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