Closer to Home

Closer to Home is the third film about foreign brides to surface this year. While it sounds repetitive, each of the films is surprisingly different. A Foreign Affair went to Russia, A Silent Love to Mexico, and now, Closer to Home, the most depressing of the bunch, goes to the Philippines. It has the opportunity to be the most poignant of the bunch, but due to some plot contrivances and unlikable characters, writer/director Joseph Nobile adds some unnecessary melodrama to an otherwise compelling plot about two different people trying to relate to each other. In a nice change of pace, the acting is better than expected, with the two leads, Madeline Ortiz and John Michael Bolger (Private Parts, Just Looking) turning in some strong performances.

Dean (Bolger) decides that Dalisay (Ortiz) is the woman for him after some correspondence. He is an ex-merchant marine, returning to ordinary life in New York City. His sister, who is moving across the country, sold their apartment to their cousin, but Dean refuses to move out. This is an issue of consternation to his relatives, who have already spent a lot of money towards remodeling. Dean is simply a jerk to his family. He is completely different towards Dalisay, and Nobile and co-writer Ruben Arthur Nicdao never explain why. Especially strange is why he refuses to move out. Money seems to be part of the issue, but he clams up every time a relative walks by. Because of this, it seems like an artificial plot mechanism to add some strife into the relationship at some point later in the film.

Dalisay fares a little better. She hopes to move to America to earn money for her sister's needed operation. The fee for the visa is exorbitant, forcing her parents to borrow money from a loan shark. She lies to her parents and tells them that she is moving to America to be a nanny, not to marry an American. This immediately casts her in a bad light. Sure she is doing this for altruistic reasons, but she never seems to bat an eye when presented with this moral quandary. Worse is how she pushes her parents into the arms of the willing loan shark, when other avenues dry up. When she arrives at Dean's, she never mentions the loan. She says she wants to work, but Dean is the old-fashioned type of guy who wants to provide for his wife, and as a result, have her sit at home all day and do nothing.

Closer to Home works best when it dances around the two people trying to get to know each other. They are both eager, yet extremely hesitant to open up. Dean compensates by showering Dalisay with gifts using the precious little money he has, and Dalisay tries hard adjusting to life in a new country. Dean actually has more of a personality at these points, and it is easier to want them to succeed. The two obviously have a lot to learn about each other, but before they can settle down into a sense of normalcy, Nobile has all of random familial issues on both sides surface, giving the film a soap opera feel to it. If he resolved the issues better, Closer to Home would probably end on a better note, but he ends it abruptly. Is this more realistic? Possibly, but it is sure less satisfying cinematically.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
2 hours, 5 minutes, English and Tagalog with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains some nudity, language, and mature situations, most likely an R.

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