DIFF Review: THIS IS WHERE WE LIVE

An unlikely friendship in small town Texas makes the soul of this quietly poignant film.

Diane Sutton is the matriarch of a family set on hard times in Llano, Texas. Her grown son August suffers from advanced cerebral palsy. Her husband is beginning to show signs of dementia, forgetting important things, wandering off down busy highways. Her daughter Lainey resents being trapped in a bleak house that rotates around her brother's and father's needs, and Diane's meager salary stocking shelves at the local grocery store isn't going to support all of them.

Worse, Diane herself suffers from high blood pressure. Her doctor urges her to eat better and not to lift anything heavy. Diane scarfs cheap meals between shifts and lugs August from his wheelchair to his bed, the shower, the toilet.

She hires Noah, a friendly local, to build a wheelchair ramp for August, and after seeing the two guys get along, she asks Noah to spend some time with August so she can pick up a few extra shifts at the store. Noah - who drinks too much and has a complicated relationship with his own bedridden father - isn't sure what to think at first, but he soon values his time with August more than anything else in his empty life, as Diane tries to adjust to her son's growing independence.

This is Where We Live feels like a specimen of untempered life. Nothing rings false in this unassuming film. It seems as if we're merely peeking in on the rough and sometimes rewarding life of a family that's had to suffer more hardship than most. And while that might sound depressing, like life, This Is Where We Live finds moments of beauty and joy in the midst of sorrow.

The film is written and directed by Josh Barrett and Marc Menchaca, and Menchaca also plays Noah, giving the sometimes-wastrel an urgent sense of humanity. All of the performances are plain and honest here, no melodrama or spectacle clouding a straightforward narrative.

The title stems from a note August gives Noah, using his crumpled hands to point at an alphabet slate as Lainey transcribes. "Let truth be unhindered. This is where we live." And that's where This is Where We Live lives as well, in the unhindered truth. It's not always easy to take, but the truth never is.

 

Comments