Being from yet another one of those "flyover" states myself, I found myself with a deep appreciation for the calm and gentle spirit of Oklahoma native Jonathan Rossetti's award-winning Home, James, a film about a Tulsa photographer named James (Rossetti) whose unexpected encounter with Cooper (Kerry Knuppe) inspires the struggling photographer to take chances with his art yet threatens to derail his professional identity with her own hard partying ways.
Originally funded through a Kickstarter campaign, Home, James has been picked up for distribution by growing distributor Devolver Digital Films and will be released via digital VOD on August 12th. Home, James picked up the prize for Best Oklahoma Film at the 2013 DeadCENTER Film Festival in Oklahoma City and garnered praise from coast-to-coast as that rare romantic film that presents as honest and wonderfully stylish.
Home, James has a strong flavor of Tulsa having been filmed actually in Tulsa and featuring some of the photogenic city's most recognized spots. The film also features music with a definite regional flavor to it, though those of us (myself included) with a bit of a stereotype of Oklahomans may be just a tad disappointed with hardly a twang to be found anywhere.
While Rossetti himself now lives in Los Angeles, it's clear from the gentle and affectionate tone of Home, James that this isn't a case of leaving and never looking back. It is clear that Rossetti's affection for the area is obvious, yet this is a film and it's also mightily important that we have a strong story and performances to showcase it all.
Featuring disciplined and convincing performances from both Rossetti and Knuppe, this is a film that is largely devoid of the emotional manipulation that so often follows this kind of story with only one detour that didn't quite feel as naturally developed as the rest of the film. Rick Dacey and Julie Gearheard, the latter also co-wrote the script with Rossetti, do a nice job in supporting roles.
For a film made on less than six figures, Home, James is a remarkably beautiful film with D.P. George Su's lensing capturing the beauty of Tulsa while nicely illuminating the film's many nighttime shots. Karoliina Tuovinen edits the film in such a way that shots are allowed to linger when we need them to linger, while the film lacks the uncomfortable dead spots often found in lower budgeted films.
Home, James is a love song to Rossetti's beloved Oklahoma, yet it's also a film that seems to find its solid footing within Rossetti and Gearheard's flyover roots. The film's themes will likely resonate with anyone who has ever thought about leaving it all behind in search of a better life or who has simply struggled with living up to their potential.
If you've actually left? Home, James may very well have you scheduling your next trip home.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic