Irene McCabey (Rachel McKeon) is an Austin punk singer whose position in the band is rapidly deteriorating, and with good reason—Homemakers opens with a scene in which she attacks their accordionist, and she seems to be fueled by the chaos which she perpetually leaves in her wake. Her bandmates are on the verge of kicking her out of the group when she receives a call that her great-grandfather has died and left her his run-down house in Pittsburgh. Not one to stick around a sticky situation, Irene heads up to Pittsburgh and promptly runs into her cousin—and new drinking buddy—Cam (Jack Culbertson) at a local bar. The two embark on a weed and alcohol-filled restoration project (with her cousin doing most of the work). As Irene becomes attached to her quirky house and newfound friends, she finds herself settling down into a lifestyle at odds with her old band life. When her new and old worlds collide, however, Irene discovers that she can’t “have it all,” a realization which culminates in a faceoff between Irene’s desire to “nest” and “the rampaging child within.”
Irene’s character is definitely one we’ve all met before (and hope never to meet again): the childish adult, a young, middle-class white woman still relying on her parent’s credit cards, yet completely taken in by the illusion of her own independence. (I spent the first half of the movie wondering how she could afford to keep paying for so much alcohol!) Rachel McKeon has vividly captured her angst and the roiling chaos that erupts in so many drunken escapades.
Colin Healey, writer and director, has created a film that, though its main character is openly lesbian (whoot whoot!), couldn’t be called an LGBT film, since it is not preoccupied with LGBT issues. In this it is, perhaps, more of a proponent of equal treatment, since it doesn’t exoticize Irene or cast her lesbian relationships in a hyper-sexualized light. It's always amazing to me that filmmakers seem to find the existence of a gay person who's not completely obsessed with their sexuality so impossible to imagine, but Healey nails it. Similarly, the film is essentially one of female empowerment—it details the story of a woman who will not subject herself to the limitations of others or societal judgments, yet her stubborn independence doesn't result in her own undoing. (Imagine that! A woman who can function independently!) Healey has very consciously attempted to avoid catering to the male gaze, and (no surprise here) the film is all the better for it.
Homemakers is the winner of the Audience Award at the Independent Film Festival in Boston. It will be premiering in NYC on June 16th at Brooklyn’s Northside Festival.
Images courtesy of austinfilm.org and homemakersmovie.com.
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