“The space given to me as an actor is a lot smaller than when I write and direct”: Franka Potente on directorial debut Home
Franka Potente had her first big break into indie cinema with her electric performance in the 1998 German cult movie Run Lola Run, and later into Hollywood with scene-stealing turns opposite Matt Damon in The Bourne Identity (2002) and The Bourne Supremacy (2004). Over two decades and many film and TV roles later, she’s back in the limelight – but not just for her acting credentials. With Home, Potente shows her skills as both a writer and director as she steps behind the camera for the first time.
Opening with the memorable image of a hardened yet subtly vulnerable man sporting a bright red topknot and tattoos standing on a desolate dirt road, her directorial debut sets its tone from the outset. Newly released ex-con Marvin’s (played pitch-perfectly by newcomer Jake McLaughlin) backstory is only partially revealed – instead, the audience is thrown into his disorientating present as he attempts to slip back into old life in his former neighbourhood.
Dusty, sun-scorched locations, small-town vibes and a life of deprivation on the margins of society form the backdrop to the story, and there’s tension and violence everywhere Potente’s protagonist turns. His time served and genuine remorse are not nearly enough to convince most he’s atoned for his (admittedly seemingly heinous and pointless) crime. But the film is also filled with moments of joy and levity, with Marvin something of an adolescent frozen in time; despite all he’s been through and done, and his toughened exterior, he’s able to share lovingly tender and witty exchanges with his mum, Bernadette (the ever-brilliant Kathy Bates), let loose dancing to a favourite track with his best mate and find the first sparks of love with a local girl (Aisling Franciosi of The Nightingale, on excellent form).
Composed, quietly unfolding – except for a handful of emotive bursts – with a minimal script and stripped-back premise, Home deals mostly in its strong invocations of place and character to explore ideas of masculinity, redemption and forgiveness, posing a central question: can a criminal can ever really have a fresh start?
The Upcoming had the chance to chat with Potente, who told us about how a single striking image became the starting point for her film, how she cast the likes of screen veteran Bates alongside newbie McLaughlin, and why she hopes her movie will be like those she loves herself – and will linger with audiences well after the credits roll.
Home is released digitally on demand on 24th January 2022.
Watch the trailer for Home here: