House Of D

on April 15, 2005 by Tim Cogshell
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With his feature writing and directing debut, David Duchovny has done what many debuting directors do -- that is, produce a semi-autobiographical film very loosely based on the experiences of their own lives. This is generally a perilous path; our lives are hardly ever as interesting as we perceive them to be, even when populated with ostensibly odd characters, circumstances and events, as is the case here. Mostly, the narratives come off as contrived (which they ultimately are), self-obsessed (which they also are) or worse, preciously enigmatic. That said, "House D" isn't nearly as egregious a vanity project as many, and in fact has its moments, including a good performance by Duchovny for the limited amount of time he spends onscreen.

The film revolves around Tom Warshaw (Duchovny), whose marital problems prompt him to delve deep into his own psychological issues, most of which stem back to his childhood in the early '70s. Much of the film flashes back to this time and the previously mentioned quirky characters therein, including Tom's mother (played by Duchovny's real-life wife Téa Leoni), empathetic prisoner Lady Bernadette (singer Erykah Badu) and a mentally challenged janitor played by Robin Williams in an understated performance that isn't particularly irritating, though hardly necessary.

As for the story, "House of D" is concerned with the fairly typical obsessions of teenage boys: sexuality and an overall disdain for the existence of one's own parents. Mrs. Warshaw has a penchant for using the bathroom as the young Tom (Anton Yelchin) is taking a shower, to his horror and dismay. It's hardly the fodder for the deepest psychosocial scars, and nor are the other issues in the movie, including young Tom's lust for a classmate. To sort things out, the adult Tom travels to Greenwich Village to confront the demons of his past.

Though it tries hard to be original, there's nothing truly unique about "House of D," but neither is there anything mortally wrong with it. In fact, it represents Duchovny as a capable writer and director with a promising career outside of the "X-Files" milieu -- all he needs is a new subject, preferably something in which none of his life experiences play a role. Starring Tea Leoni, David Duchovny, Anton Yelchin, Erykah Badu and Robin Williams. Directed and written by David Duchovny. Produced by Richard Barton Lewis, Jane Rosenthal and Bob Yari. A Lions Gate release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for sexual and drug references, thematic elements and language. Running time: 97 min.

Tags: David Duchovny, Anton Yelchin, Tea Leoni, Erykah Badu, Robin Williams, Bob Yari, drama, true story, mental disability, prison
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