Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Homebodies (1974)

          Whereas Paul Mazursky's poignant dramedy Harry and Tonto took a serious look at the plight of impoverished big-city seniors displaced by rapacious developers, another film released in the same year approached the subject matter from a markedly different angle. Part black comedy and part horror movie, Homebodies features a determined group of elderly people fighting back against businesses seeking to evict the seniors from their longtime homes. While the film's premise is enjoyably outlandish, the execution is disappointingly uneven. Homebodies is photographed quite well, and some of the performances are whimsical. Yet credibility problems, drab pacing, and the lack of laugh-out-loud moments keep the picture firmly rooted in mediocrity. Homebodies never explodes into the satirical farce it could have been, and the lighthearted storytelling makes it difficult to buy into the tragic aspects of the narrative.
          Anyway, the principal characters are sisters Emily (Frances Fuller) and Mattie (Paula Trueman), who share an apartment in a decaying building occupied exclusively by fixed-income seniors. Mattie is preoccupied with a nearby construction project, because she's aware of a troubling pattern--the more the project sprawls, the more buildings like the one in which she lives are condemned in the name of "progress." Sure enough, municipal functionary Miss Pollack (Linda Marsh) shows up one day with eviction notices for Emily, Mattie, and their neighbors. The only thing that halts the eviction process is a fatal accident at the construction site. Then, as more accidents occur, it becomes evident that Mattie is responsible—she's deliberately killing the people threatening her lifestyle. Mattie eventually enlists her neighbors as coconspirators, leading to somewhat droll scenes of assembled seniors functioning as a slow-moving murder squad.
          Among the cast, familiar character actor Ian Wolfe stands out for his performance as an aging superintendant, although Trueman’s portrayal has a certain twisted charm. It's also worth mentioning that Homebodies picks up steam during its final act thanks to a volley of colorful plot twists, so the movie rewards viewers who slog through the more workmanlike stretches.

Homebodies: FUNKY


Booksteve said...

This one had its word premiere in Cincinnati because some of the exteriors were shot here. My parents and I attended the opening night. Not much of a crowd and you couldn't really recognize anything local. I remember being impressed by Ms. Trueman. The only other thing I ever saw her in I think was THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES a couple years after this.

Lj letizia said...

A true classic