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Earnest 'Finding Home' is too long a trip

When Amanda (Lisa Brenner), the young corporate heroine in Lawrence D. Foldes's ''Finding Home," gets a call informing her that her grandmother has died, she interrupts her birthday make-out with her boss (Johnny Messner) and travels from Manhattan to coastal Maine both for the burial and ''for closure." ''I always seem to be going around in circles, and now I'm circling back," she announces in the narration.

During her stay, Amanda gets to know her grandmother's good friend Katie (Genevieve Bujold). Together, they ran her grandmother's inn, the very one that has been bequeathed to Amanda. If that doesn't sound so impressive, all Amanda's mother, Grace (Jeanetta Arnette), inherits is a brooch. But the woman had it coming. When Amanda was a girl, Grace dragged her away from Grandma Esther, who's played in the movie's barrage of gauzy flashbacks by Louise Fletcher.

The occasion for flight was a devastating family secret whose disclosure came just as little Amanda was about to have her first kiss with Katie's nephew, Dave. Grace forbade Amanda from ever again contacting her grandmother. As a grown-up, Amanda has never faced the effects of this trauma -- until now. She starts with her mother (''Because of you, I haven't seen Grandma since I was 11"). But Mom is tough: ''Well, you certainly have developed a New York attitude!"

The movie eventually trades in its unhappy melodrama for the question of whether Amanda will keep or sell the inn. And will Amanda realize that her mother has misled her into believing that Dave (Misha Collins), who's grown into an attractive and sensitive handyman, had sexually assaulted the girl when they were kids?

''Finding Home" is well meant and earnest but is stretched to almost twice what would have been a comfortable length. Any movie with as many slow-motion shots of characters reaching for objects such as diaries or framed photographs has an editor who's on an extended coffee break. Foldes complicates his story further with blood, fistfights, shock pregnancies, and drunken sexual assault (no, another one). Over every scene the score swells and soars, and the sound design can be deafening.

The movie reaches its climax with the arrival of Amanda's macho boss, her best friend, her best friend's boyfriend, and her boss's lackey, a nerd played by grown-up Justin Henry, whom you might remember as the kid in ''Kramer Vs. Kramer." The actors playing these one-dimensional characters are a chore to watch.

Brenner's performance is particularly strange, as she appears to have done all her acting in the off-screen narration and none of it in front of the camera. She delivers her voice-over with whimsy and discomfort, as if she can't believe the words are coming out of her mouth. Amanda mentions a ''terrible, uncomfortable feeling attached to something I long for, something I terribly miss." (Does she know Hallmark makes a card for those occasions?)

In any case, what happens between these characters might be incredibly traumatic for them, but there's little in it for us.

Wesley Morris can be reached at

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