Do you remember those movies from your adolescents that shaped who you are? That affected you in ways you never even realized? I can recall watching Life as a House in English class, (I’m not even sure how it tied into our studies) and being reluctant at first considering most films watched in school were bland and dull. Boy, was I wrong. I was drawn into the film, excited to go class each day to finish it… and trying to secretly hold back tears when it was over.
While Hayden Christensen alone is a motivating reason to watch Life as a House, Kevin Kline, Jena Malone and Kristin Scott Thomas all contribute stellar performances. Irwin Winkler (The Net, Home of the Brave) directed the film from a script by Mark Andrus (As Good as it Gets). And who can forget the coveted shower scene kiss?
In order to effectively play his role, Kevin Kline lost twenty-five pounds from enduring a strict diet that he had even enlisted the help of a private trainer for. Kline’s declining weight helped audiences see how sick George really was. Many do not know that several scenes were improvised, including some of the highly-emotional ones in order to portray the film’s realism. The stunning house that was built in the film was dismantled after filming was completed and moved to become a library for Kenter Canyon Elementary School in Brentwood, California.
“You know the great thing, though, is that change can be so constant you don’t even feel the difference until there is one. It can be so slow that you don’t even notice that your life is better or worse, until it is. Or it can just blow you away, make you something different in an instant. It happened to me.”
Troubled teen Sam moves in with his father George, whom he has an estranged relationship with. Unbeknownst to Sam, George is dying and hopes building a house with Sam will fix their troubled past. Watching the emotional journey of the two reconnecting and then departing was a beautiful thing to watch and I learned so much from it. Another extraordinary part of the film was Sam’s mother Robin rekindling her love with George, who realizes he always took her for granted but never stopped loving her.
Life as a House is one of those unforgettable films that will always stick with you. The movie is captivating, moving and an emotional roller coaster. One of the most moving films out there, I am surprised it did not win more awards. For those who may not have seen it, I highly recommend giving the film a watch. You surely won’t be disappointed. It also seems like each time I watch Life as a House, I take something new and different away from it.
“I always thought of myself as a house. I was always what I lived in. It didn’t need to be big. It didn’t even need to be beautiful. It just needed to be mine. I became what I was meant to be. I built myself a life. I built myself a house.”