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Life as a House
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12 out of 10

Author: Johannes Kingma from Switzerland
2 January 2008

This film just gets better every time I see it. The first part being Sam adolescence dealings and more his parents dealings with that, which by the way is excellently portrait by Christensen and Scott Thomas and Kline, gets better, and even more believable towards the end where mature love rejection and reconciliation is portrayed an a very believable way. The chemistry between Christensen and Malone is almost tangible, amazing performances. As is Christensen and Kline. It really made me forget Anakin... the Somerhalder/Steenburgen éntre-act act, as the needed comic relief in an otherwise much to emotionally heavy film all are just great.

I thought at once of an Irving novel that I must have missed, but this is all original material from the hand of Mark Andrus, which also not surprisingly happened to be responsible for As Good as it Gets.

Think of Magnolia without the frogs but with the same emotional development of all characters, from 10 to 50 years old.

See this and love it. (yes my eyes were wet after seeing this)

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Alienated Father & Son Reconnect

Author: Gary Gore from United States
25 August 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Kline & Christensen play father (George Monroe) & son (Sam Monroe) who are at odds caused in part by Kline's absence during his son's formative teen years. Diagnosed with cancer & let go from his job of 20+ years, George brings Sam to stay with him for the summer and help build the home he has been planning for over 20 years. During the course of the project, both learn about each other & the love between them returns again. A very bittersweet story but so wonderfully done that you can't stop reflecting on it again & again.

This is one of my top 25 movies of all time. Excellent cinematography, stirring soundtrack, and outstanding acting. If you have kids & aren't emotionally dead, expect to cry during this film. Powerful performances by all with particularly good efforts by Kevin Kline, Hayden Christensen, and Jena Malone.

Won the Audience Award at the Aspen FilmFest in 2001. This film is a keeper & holds a top position on my movie shelf.

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A Chick Flick For Guys

Author: oberonloa from United States
12 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's not often I fall for those sappy melodramas ofttimes categorized as 'chick flicks'. One exception is director Irwin Winkler's 'Life as a House'. A mediocre performer at the box office in 2001, it's now paying for itself in video sales, and can be seen this month on the Love Stories channel.

One reason for my affection for this film has to be that it so hits home for me. Not only is the central plot device one of my pet editorial subjects - the juxtaposition of multi-million dollar homes against pre-WWII ramshackles along California's coastline, the theme elements are some the greatest causes of my generation's middle-aged angst. Most particular among these are our success or failure as spouses and parents.

Briefly, the central character, George Monroe, who occupies a dilapidated old shack situated on a prime piece of seabluff (think Laguna Beach, although filming was actually done at Rancho Palos Verdes' Long Point, former site of the historic Marineland). The home, and George himself, are the scourge of the neighborhood. The shack was left to George as a teenager, along with approved plans for a new home, to be built on the same foundation, by his abusive, alcoholic father.

George takes the Metrolink to work one warm June day to find his 20-year career as an architectural model builder has been made obsolete by computers, and he has terminal cancer, with only a few months to live. He then decides to use the remaining days of his life to build the house, along with his teenage son. The son, in the custody of George's ex-wife, herself in a secure but loveless marriage, has fallen into drug abuse and the Goth culture, and has nothing but hatred and resentment for George.

It's easy for a technophile such as myself to become hung-up on the way the script glosses over the realities of building a home along California's coastline, or the mention of 'mortise and tenon' construction, when in fact, it is post and beam (I've never heard of mortise and tenon being used in architectural applications). And the plot line is somewhat predictable. But screenwriter Mark Andrus, fresh from his Oscar-winning gig on 'As Good As It Gets' (also a fav of mine), keeps things moving along smartly. And he does a good job of using humor to breakup the heavy subject matter, thus succeeding in making this film uplifting and inspirational, rather than morose.

But the biggest reason not to miss this film is the quality of the performances. Kevin Kline is, in the opinion of this critic and many others, among the greatest actors of my generation. And his work as George Monroe is positively Oscar caliber. And Kristen Scott Thomas follows his lead like Ginger following Fred. Apart from being far more articulate than one might expect in real-life (This is necessary, as anyone who's tried to communicate with a typical real-life teenager knows.), Hayden Christensen is convincing as George's son Sam. And young Jenna Malone is not to be missed as ingenue-next-door Alyssa. This film is a high water mark for the actor's craft.

While children will have little to relate to here, and Jenna and Hayden make this film watchable for teens and twenty-somethings, this is basically a movie for mature adults. So guys, the next time the SO wants you to pick up a video for 'date night', here's one that won't make you wretch.

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Life as a House is a delight you can't afford to miss

Author: Sa'ar Vardi ( from Kfar Saba, Israel
20 January 2007

Life as a House is one of those few touching dramas that really makes you wanna go back and watch repeatedly, and just hug everyone involved in making this film during the process. For Kevin Kline gives such a moving and genuine performance, you just can't help but feel for his character. Also, Hayden Christiensen, in his pre-Star Wars days truly shines as a... well, Emo youngster that really wants to be loved, and Jena Malone makes you wanna be young again just so you can fall in love with her character.

With such unique talents and a straight-forward message of love and lust for life, this film is an underrated lost gem in the early cinematic years of the 2000's. If you haven't seen it yet, Life as a House is a delight you can't afford to miss.


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watch it

Author: philadelphiastorygirl from United States
20 November 2006

This is a very refreshing movie to watch. The characters are well written and well developed. It is a character study that is honest and poignant. In my opinion it, has not received the recognition it deserves. Kevin Kline does an amazing job portraying a man who wants to change. It is the best performance I have seen from Hayden Christensen. It is a wonderful drama with a million little things that make it so great and worthwhile. So many movies today do not seem to have a story or plot. Content is becoming increasingly less significant but this film proves that there are still good writers out there. It is beautifully made and is an excellent watch. There are two lines from the film that stick with me. The first is: "I haven't been touched in years." It is devastating that society today has become too hectic to care about what's happening to the person next to you. The other line I like is: "What you think you know doesn't have much to do with reality." As I said before there are just a myriad of elements that make this film incredibly enjoyable. It touches on relevant topics and should be remembered as one of the best films released in 2001.

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A Movie for the Soul

Author: from United States
16 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The situations and problems these characters face are ones that do happen.....maybe not in the same context but along those lines.At this movies core it is a story of redemption.Sam (the teenage boy) likes to be numb to all around him....he uses drugs and smokes and resorts to almost prostituting to get money.But during this long Summer,he comes to understand life around him and more specifically,his father.Kevin Kline plays George (Sams father) whom knows where Sam is coming from because he's been their before.I think that the director,the actors,and especially Hayden Christensen did a fantastic job at bringing this multiple layered story to life.(It also doesn't hurt that Hayden is adorable)

Their are two scenes that I think capture every emotion and give this movie a whole new meaning.....not only of redemption but of love.

FIRST ONE: Sam:"So this whole thing...this whole summer of having me here was for your sake.You selfish F***!You only wanted me here to get you to like you!" George:"No,I wasn't trying to get you to like me.I was trying to get you to love me." Sam:"Well congratulations,cause you f***ing pulled it off."

SECOND ONE: George:"Sam.....I want you to be happy and your not.Not here with me,not home with your mother,not alone,not anywhere!I see it in your eyes,in your sleep,in your answer to everything!Your barely alive!" Sam:"I'm not even listening to you right now."

I hope others will see this movie and see it like I do.I hope you all enjoy it.

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Poignant, awkward, tear jerking, funny (A nearly perfect movie)

Author: Asymptote37 from United States
16 July 2006

This is not a film for cynics or those who think movies must be pointlessly confusing to be profound. Life as a House is a bluntly earnest movie that was not made to impress (though it is impressive) it was made to portray some really complex and delicate human emotions. It's firmly a drama in the sense that it deals wholly in the realm of human frailty and dignity, folly and triumph. The film wears it's heart on its sleeve, not anything art-house of self-important intellectualism. As for the acting, I wish no one had ever seen Star Wars because then they could see that Christiansen's portrayal of a teenager is frighteningly accurate. Kline and Thomas are consistently excellent actors, and both show depth and humanity in their respective characters. The plot of the movie is messy, with the subplots that seem pointless when compared to be big picture, and maybe that's the point. Life isn't all huge moment of importance, but sometimes, if we get past the crap and the petty things, those moments are there, if we look. You'd probably like this movie if your aren't either too morally pious to get past the R rating, or too smug and full of yourself to like an honest, beautiful story.

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Lovely - a good film

Author: stejam from United Kingdom
27 June 2006

This is a truly lovely, heartfelt film - the sort you watch even though you know you'll be blubbing cathartically at the end. It segues mildly into schmaltz at some points, but overall is a quality film with strong leads from Kevin Kline and Hayden Christensen as his teenage son. Some scenes you might not want to watch with your mum... And beware - Kristin Scott Thomas' faux-American accent is quite annoying. There are some great comedy lines, which helps the occasional chocolate-box moments.

It's feel-good, and feel-heartbroken and everything inbetween, but overall, definitely a good film.

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Life as a House

Author: ( from United States
18 June 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I think this was the best movie I have seen in a while. Hayden did an Wonderful performance in this movie! I think this deserved 1,000,000,000 stars! If you like Dramatic movies where there ALWAYS is a problem, well this is the movie for you! Every actor did a Great job in this movie! Hayden really showed how he can act! Hope when you see it(if you haven't seen it)you feel the way I do! I suggest you see it! If you want too see some great acting in a movie then I suggest you see Life as a House. If you have seen Hayden in the Star Wars movies, well wait till you see him act in this movie! He plays a Great dramatic role! This is by far the Best movie I have seen in a while!

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Author: Foz-2 from Detroit, MI
25 May 2006

I showed this movie to my alternative ed. students. They totally identified with Sam, who is basically them. As the story went on and Kevin Kline's character owns up to his fatherhood role, some students were visibly moved. As Sam came around, they saw themselves in it.

By the end of the movie, several students were openly weeping. I'm not ashamed to admit I was openly weeping also, partly because of the movie, but also because it affected so many of my students.

IF YOU HAVE A TEENAGER WHO IS OUT OF CONTROL, SHOW THEM THIS MOVIE. If you want a great flick full of life lessons, watch this film. Watch it for you, watch it for others. Watch it for the future.


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