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Life as a House (2001)

  Starring: Hayden Christensen, Kevin Kline, Jena Malone, Kristin Scott Thomas, Mary Steenburgen
Links: Life as a House on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 7.50 (2 ratings)
nofreelist.com Ranking: Ranked equal 81st of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

"At least it's not a romantic comedy" - a review by andy-j

George Monroe (Kevin Kline) is a divorcee, living by himself in an old shack that he always wanted to knock down and replace with his dream home. Within the first fifteen minutes of this film, he loses his job and is told he has terminal cancer, giving him four months to live. The experience causes him to open his eyes, and he decides that he can no longer put off rebuilding his dream house. So, with his very angry and reluctant 15 year-old Goth-boy son Sam (Hayden Christensen) in tow, he sets about building not only a house, but also his relationship with Sam and his ex-wife Robin (Kristin Scott Thomas).

The biggest surprise that this film held for me was the realisation that Hayden Christensen is really quite good. The only other film I've seen him in is Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002), and, quite frankly, he was crap (mind you, the script should take much of the blame for his terribly unconvincing journey to the "dark side"). The emotional journey that his character Sam takes in Life as a House is, by comparison, believable, emotional, subtle and touching. He shows a great level of sensitivity and understanding towards Sam, resulting in a well-rounded and thoroughly convincing character.

Christensen's performance is eclipsed only by the always-wonderful Kevin Kline, who shines in his role. His character is the most memorable, not for any particular scene but rather from a strong presence throughout the entire movie. A lot is required of Kline - George throws a massive tantrum at the start of the movie... Kline then has to turn the audience around and make them like him, which he does quite successfully, using the tantrum and other scenes simply to highlight his character's weaknesses and make him all the more real and likeable.

Life As a House reminded me a lot of American Beauty (1999) - both feature a middle-aged American man "waking up" from the dream of their suburban lives, and going about making up for lost time. Life As a House is more subtle and less in-your-face than American Beauty, and generally more believable. It is less dramatic, but more touching. I very much enjoyed watching it.

andy-j gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Tue 20 Jan 2004

"Hits its mark" - a review by pearly

Life as a House sees Kevin Kline, in one of his finest performances, as George, a terminally-ill father who wants to spend his last days putting his house in order (both figuratively and literally). After being diagnosed with cancer and losing his job on the same day, George turns his life around, trying to make amends with his ex-wife and only love Robin (Kristin Scott Thomas), and his son Sam (Hayden Christensen, in a very different role to his Anakin in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002)).

Kevin Kline shows an unusually vulnerable side of himself in this role. The movie portrays the range of emotions that sufferers and friends and family go through in this sort of situation. This movie is definitely a tear-jerker. It takes its audience on a journey, and whilst it is not covering any particularly new ground (and there's nothing unexpected about the way the story pans out), it does what it sets out to do well.

I found myself really feeling for the characters, and I enjoyed the cohorts of the smaller characters who added a bit of comic relief. Mary Steenburgen is particularly good as one of George's odd neighbours.

This is a bit of a chick-flick, but I think guys will also enjoy it ("oh, well", they can think, "at least it's not a romantic comedy").

pearly gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Tue 4 Jun 2002

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 2
Average rating: 7.50
Lowest rating: 7 (by pearly)
Highest rating: 8 (by andy-j)
 
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Reader comments

  1. The movie ROCKED. Hayden Christensen is HOTT!!! He looks great with makeup. HEHE. Thats not what you want to hear, huh? Sorry, the truth hurts. ;)

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Kendra Omstead on Wed 24 Dec 2003 18:16 #

  2. I luved this movie especially cuz Hayden is in it other wise i wldn't have watched it but other wise it was gr8. Hayden looked especially HOT with black hair!!!

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Angelica on Mon 19 Jan 2004 01:43 #

  3. its really good and hayden is hot!

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Some thin on Sun 25 Jan 2004 08:25 #

  4. This movie was excellent! Not only did it bring tears to my eyes but I got smiles due to Hayden's sexy look!! Man he loox fine with black hair and make-up!!!!

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from +*-*+Bubblez+*-*+ on Tue 22 Mar 2005 17:29 #

  5. hehehehe! Hayden is sexxxxxy!! What else can I say? The movie was great!!

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from Larry on Tue 22 Mar 2005 17:31 #

  6. hayden christensen is a sexy hunka spunk lol how lame is that but ttly the truth and nething to do with him it a hit!

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Zanna on Sun 22 May 2005 14:37 #

  7. Id write haydens hot, but gosh i feel as if its been done to death

    A comment from Angie on Sat 11 Jun 2005 13:19 #

  8. hayden ti amoooooooooooooooo

    A comment from lilly on Mon 20 Jun 2005 08:51 #

  9. this movie was touching Hayden reminds me of a former boyfriend(in his looks, the hair,make-up and percings and punk/rock style.) i own this movie and watch it as much as posible cuz besides the actors the lesson it taught me was truly a wake up call i needed.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from sarah on Sat 02 Jul 2005 11:50 #

  10. Life as a House is one of my very favorite movies. Great storyline, believable; brings both laughter and tears. Looks like the movie transcends the generations - I'm a grandma and there seem to be quite a few teen comments.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Barbs on Mon 18 Jul 2005 15:53 #

  11. I loved this movie..It was great. Hayden was a mad actor, he really pulled off the depressed/suicidal goth well. Brilliant acting. Kevin Kline was also really good.
    George: What do you want to become?
    Sam: What I'm not.
    George: What are you now?
    Sam: I'm nothing.
    Best part of the movie

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from Shan on Sun 07 Aug 2005 17:43 #

  12. I became a HC fan since ROTS, and have watched Life twice now - reminds me of my 2 sons, one who was a drug dealer at 17 till his Dad died and it turned his life around. My other son's girlfriend wanted him to be a goth, and made him dye his blond hair black and wear all the makeup like Hayden.
    Knowing how my son's have changed, I know Hayden's role is so well played by him. been there, done that!

    Hayden is GREAT!

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Eileen Lamerton on Fri 12 Aug 2005 16:37 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 9.80 (10 ratings)

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