Life As a House is a movie that easily transcends all the borders and walls humans erect in the name of living. The story of a terminally-ill father attempting to reconcile with his teenage son and ex-wife may seem cliché. What is unexpected is how slowly the story creeps on you until you feel included in the movie. Superb acting (Kevin Kline, Kristen Scott Thomas and Golden Globe nominated Hayden Christensen), strong writing (Mark Andrus), and of course phenomenal direction (Irwin Winkler) allow the audience to seep into the film bit by bit until every loss and love becomes your own.
The movie draws strength from the patient father and draws energy from the rebellious and unstable teenager. Animosity more than angst define modern youthfulness; making this movie a defining one of this generation and the twenty first century. The movie although emotional does possess intellectual merit; the family and the community unite in awe-inspiring fashion to aide a dying man achieve a dream. The magnitude of the film needs to be understood from the perspective that empathy is being employed as a cinematic tool. This allows the medium to surpass its visual limitations. In our post-modern times cinema is an institution just as powerful and accountable as any democratic institution; it has the ability to change how we interact and the scope to inspire change. So it is in these terms that we discover that a connection with a movie is not an ominous theft of individuality as Plato’s attack on the arts described. Instead a human connection with a film is an emotional emancipation that reminds us of the need for empathy and brings us closer to each other.