The Homecoming

For the most part, this is a faithful transposition of Peter Hall’s London stage version of one of Harold Pinter’s best plays, done for the American Film Theatre series in 1973. Two of the cast members are different, but far more consequential are the formal losses from stage to screen: the theater curtain that signaled the play’s division into two acts and the spectator’s fixed distance from the action, which occurs in a hyperrealistically oversize living room. Both acts end with Max (Paul Rogers), a retired butcher and the presiding patriarch of a North London family, demanding a kiss from someone, and after the first act masterfully seduces an audience into accepting the characters’ behavior on a quasi-naturalistic level, the second elucidates the moral implications of that acceptance in a devastating manner. As in middle-period Ibsen, Pinter discloses facts about his characters at precise junctures so that events and identities click into place simultaneously. With Cyril Cusack, Ian Holm, Michael Jayston, Vivien Merchant, and Terence Rigby. 111 min. (JR)

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