I suppose you could call me a connoisseur of indie films. I may not know my history of film as well as I should being a film major, such as precisely what films John Ford may or may not have won Oscars for or who scored all his movies, but I know modern indie films, dang-nabit, and that is why I jumped at the opportunity to see Jeff, Who Lives at Home. What I hoped for was a heart-warming experience similar to what I felt when watching Garden State, my all-time favorite movie – and that was, fortunately, precisely what I got.
The world in which this film takes place is brilliantly set up very quickly. It sums up the tone of the entire film in the very first scene, an artistic choice I was incredibly impressed by. Jeff tells the audience that he’s concerned that he’s not living up to his potential and wonders if there’s more to his destiny, and after you feel this heartfelt connection to him, the scene ends on an incredible joke that tells you you’re in for a fun but serious journey. One of the best ways to set the tone of a film is through music, and I’ve always been particularly fond of indie soundtracks. This soundtrack did not disappoint me. The music was so natural to the story being told; it fit perfectly, like the last puzzle piece that was needed to make the film perfect.
Jeff doesn’t have the greatest relationship with his mother at the beginning of the film, but who can really blame her for feeling frustrated when he just won’t leave the house? After an argument, she finally manages to get Jeff to agree to leave the house to do her a favor, and thus our story begins. Jeff gets sidetracked by his search for destiny, which ultimately leads himself to his brother, who goes through a lot of discoveries alongside his brother. The bond between these semi-estranged brothers grows through their solidarity in the hardships they endure together. Their journey in growing up and ultimately just learning to live life is so positive and heart-warming. All four of the main characters (Jeff, his brother Pat, their mother, and Pat’s wife Linda) experience major changes that really spoke to me as an audience member.
All of the performances in this film were perfect. Every single actor fit the role they were meant to take on. Jason Segel is a great comedic actor, but it was so incredible to watch him branch out and take on a more serious role while subtly incorporating the comedic timing he is so brilliant at. This was also my first experience in watching Ed Helms take on a more serious role, and my favorite part of watching him was that I didn’t feel like I just was watching Andy from The Office try to be normal. He was a totally different person in this film, which gained a lot of respect for the man from me.
Susan Sarandon, was, of course, brilliant. The moment where her character finally let go and allowed herself to live life to the fullest was the most beautiful scene in the entire film for me. I’ve been a fan of Judy Greer for the longest time. She’s always been great at playing the sardonic sidekick to an equally beautiful leading lady, and I have been patiently waiting for her to get her moment to shine. I definitely got that in this film. I was so happy to see her finally grow up and take on the role of the strong woman who had to deal with hardships and make difficult life decisions. My only wish is that she could have been in this film more, because she shined consistently throughout the whole film.
At the end of the film, as I found where Jeff’s destiny led him, I couldn’t help but feel like a part of my own life had changed along with him. I felt something at the end of this film that I haven’t felt in a long time, and I loved every moment of the journey I experienced with these four characters. The only thing stopping from giving this film a perfect score is the fact that I wanted the mother’s story to tie in to Jeff and Pat’s a bit more than it did, but I’m still giving it 4.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls.
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