Judge Jesse Ataide muses that there may be no place like home, but he knew that long before this film told him that.
At What Price Family?
Closer to Home is a film that deals with the bitter clash of two very different cultures. Dean (Jean Michael Bolger) is a lonely ex-merchant mariner. He comes across a photo of Dalisay (Madeline Ortaliz) at an agency specializing in connecting young girls from the Philippines with interested parties in the United States. Fondly remembering the beautiful, demure girls he came across during his foreign travels, he figures that the photo he holds in his hand is the answer to his acute loneliness and disillusionment. With dreams of finally settling down and starting a family, he sends for Dalisay to join him in New York City.
Dalisay has other ideas, however. Though quiet and polite, she possesses a steely determination to get to America and find work. Her family, farmers in the Philippine countryside, are poor and debt-ridden, and cannot pay for the medical treatment her sick sister needs. Dalisay takes it upon herself to find the funds necessary to save the family home, and makes it her main motivation behind accepting Dean's proposal. Once she actually arrives in the States, these different motivations naturally produce conflicts and tension that dissolve any chance for a relationship Dean and Dalisay might have had.
Closer to Home is a competently made little film driven by its noble ambitions. Technically, there is nothing of note here. The acting, the directing, the script, and the visual aspects of the film all are adequate, but none are exceptional in any way. It's hard to review this kind of a film—there are moments of unexpected power and insight that makes it hard to actively dislike, but at the same time there is nothing that makes it particularly noteworthy.
The film is at its best when it takes issues of cultural tension and false expectations head-on, but at its worst when it idealizes (complete with slow motion and melodramatic music) the happiness of the poor-but-smiling Filipino farm laborers and relies too heavily on stereotypes of gruff New Yorkers to make its obvious point about cultural differences.
The film, presented in fullscreen, can never quite shake the look of a TV movie; the image is generally clear, despite some occasional blurriness and slight discoloration. The audio track is serviceable, as is to be expected. Optional English subtitles are provided; the film's theatrical trailer is the DVD's sole extra.
When it comes down to it, Closer to Home is a film that's not guilty simply because there's nothing to find it guilty of.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Elibon Film Productions
• Theatrical Trailer
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