In a dreary North London flat, the site of perpetual psychological warfare, a philosophy professor visits his family after a nine-year absence and introduces the four men - father, uncle and two brothers - to his wife.
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Jeremy Peter Johnson,
Max is a surly pensioner who alternately venerates and vilifies his dead wife. Sam, his brother, is a supercilious chauffeur. Lenny is a smiling, snake-like pimp. Joey is a thick-witted, would-be boxer. These four men live together in a North London flat, the site of their perpetual sadomasochistic battle of words and sometimes physical violence. And then after nine years, Max's third son, Teddy, a philosophy professor living in California, comes back home for a visit. He brings his wife, Ruth. She is immediately drawn in to the family's ugly psychological games and quickly proves a worthy opponent. Soon, the game involves both of Teddy's brothers taking extreme liberties with Ruth, as the coiled Teddy obstinately refuses to spoil the malicious fun by objecting. Written by
Ian Holm won the 1967 Tony Award (New York City) for Supporting or Features Actor in a Drama for "The Homecoming" as Lenny and recreated in this filmed production. See more »
I mean, you needn't tell them she's your wife.
No, we'd call her something else. Dolores, or something.
Or Spanish Jacky.
No, you've got to be reserved about it, Dad. We could call her something nice... like Cynthia... or Gillian.
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My comments are partially a response to "My Mind Parasites must be dead".
I wish that I could talk with the author of the comments more to get an understanding of his reaction to the film. For the first hour or so, I was thinking some of the same things about it. I slogged through what I thought was just going to be a lot of angry, repressed people in a rotten, emotionally poisoned family just to say that I had seen it.
At first I found it very irritating that people would sling words at each other with barbs of hatred attached. A lot of the dialog seemed stilted and somewhat like lectures. And the words and the emotions often had very little to do with each other. Eventually I realized that this was just fleshing out the characters. It even seemed like a substitute for conversation by people that had completely forgotten how to communicate with each other.
During the last thirty minutes or so we've been given a tour of what five different people will do when immersed in an aquarium devoid of the oxygen of any sort of positive emotional bonds. What Pinter seems to be doing is taking five possible approaches and carrying them to their extremes. Although the possible ways that each character could have developed are endless, the thrust of each is representative: sex, violence, and shut-down.
I found myself most fascinated with trying to guess what Teddy was thinking and feeling. I imagined mostly bottled rage, but perhaps instead, relief at leaving it all behind. In a way Ruth's character was the most fascinating because she had only tangentially been exposed to the family by marrying into it. But by the end of the play, she had developed a complete, and for her, necessary response to her environment.
To the author of "My mind parasites must be dead", I hope that it had no resonance with you because your family life bore no resemblance to the play. For most of the rest of us, there was probably a lot too much of "oh, yeah", "unh-huh", "yep", "been there, done that", "that's just like my uncle/brother/dad/me." Painful but cathartic.
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