Austin Film Festival 2016: “Homestate” Review

“Homestate” was the first film I saw for Austin Film Festival and it really kick started the awesome movie-going experience I’ve had so far. The film was filmed in Texas and is rooted in discovering the twists and turns of family relationships between this one family. The authenticity of the film really shines through with its direction, acting and music.

Blaise Miller as Josh


During a week in the life of a seemingly run-of-the-mill family, Harvey (David Hickey) struggles to keep his new business afloat while Crystal (Shaneye Ferrell) manages household responsibilities and takes care of their ten-year-old daughter. When Crystal’s troubled brother, Josh (Blaise Miller) shows up with no place to go, the balance of the family’s routine is thrown into disarray. This unexpected addition to the family sets off a series of events that exposes underlying issues, inadequacies, and suspicions which threaten the foundation of their family ties.

We’ve seen this type of story before, a brother coming back into the lives of his family, causing mayhem and lots of things happen in between that never prove his worth and it either ends on a bad or good note. “Homestate” surprised me because I thought I had it all figured out in the beginning, but they really didn’t step into that stereotypical film I just described.

Grace Love as Pearl and Shaneye Ferrell as Crystal

The idea is there, but the characters have much more depth and it’s not as easy to figure them out as I thought it’d be. Josh comes home out of nowhere and is played brilliantly by Miller who makes you root for him even though you don’t know what his true intentions are. Crystal is the loving sister who wants to help her brother and Harvey is the husband trying to keep his own business and secrets in check.

Had Josh not shown up, I’m not sure if there’d be as many revelations as there were with Crystal and Harvey since they are just going about their routines in small town raising their daughter, Pearl. By the way, big shout out to Grace Love who plays Pearl, she was so natural and funny in the role.

Being part of the Texas Independent film at Austin Film Festival, I really wanted to see Texas play a role in the film and we get that from the get-go with the music, locations and of course the glaze that is on everyone’s face when they’re out in the Texas heat. I love that the spirit of Texas was clear throughout the film, without having to resort to the usual cowboy hats and boots that is seen in so many mainstream portrayals of Texas.

One of the best things about the story is the “men’s meetings” that Harvey goes to which at first, I thought were just code for “having an affair.” No he actually did go to men’s meetings where everyday men gathered and talked about their feelings and the trials they were going through. There’s been a lot of talk about what men talk about today and I’m really glad that we got to see men talk about their feelings in a film. I think so much of the time women are the only ones that are doing this on film and it gets old, so kudos to the writing on this.

I recommend watching this film if you can because it’ll surprise you and make you laugh and maybe cry at times and you’ll definitely find it relatable because not all families have it together. “Homestate” is grounded in such realism and not trying to overplay or overstate any issues, but plays out like it would in real life. Given the subjects in the film, it never went off the rails or resorted to any over the top fighting even in the tensest of situations which I think is more grounded to what we experience in our own lives.

You can catch “Homestate” on Wednesday, October 19 6:30 p.m. – 8:15 p.m. at  Galaxy Highland 9 presented by Dove Chocolate.

You can follow Austin Film Festival on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and check their website here for the full live schedule and ticket info.

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