Accommodations review (RFF)

Posted Filed under

Our Raindance coverage continues with Accommodations, written, directed and produced by newcomer Amy Miller Gross.

On the surface, Accommodations is about the moment in a married woman’s life in which she realises her own dreams have been put on hold for her husband and her children. Dig a little deeper, though, and it’s also the story of a husband who’s trapped in a soulless, corporate life because he feels he has to provide for his family. Both are unhappy, even if on the surface they have everything.

Edie (Kat Foster)  is introduced to us as a harassed mother taking care of an elaborate birthday party for her daughters. It’s immediately clear that she’s disattisfied and overwhelmed with life, communicating with her husband via an assistant even when they’re sitting next to each other, and not even faking the ‘polite daughter smile’ when criticised by her mother.

The transition is slow, but Edie soon realises that she’s simply replicated the life of her parents – surrounded by beautiful things but empty inside. Breaking point comes when husband Jake (Patrick Heusinger) drags her to an informal business meeting where he wants her to tell the wife of a potential business partner how great their lives are in New York. She refuses to lie, and pushes her husband to quit.

What follows is a satirical comedy of errors with a thick layer of tragedy underneath. Edie wants to pursue a career in screenwriting that she feels she never has time for, but the couple’s newfound freedom isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. To make ends meet, they have to put their beautiful loft on AirBnB, and Jake’s between-jobs soul searching continues to put a strain on things.

What’s refreshing about Accommodations is it can prove its point without completely blowing up its protagonist’s life. Going in you may expect Edie’s artistic awakening to manifest in her leaving her family, living more modestly or having an affair. Yet the most radical thing Edie does is dye her hair pink, which is far more true to life and relatable – despite Edie’s incredibly privileged existence.

The supporting characters, like Jake’s parade of potential bosses and Edie’s new writer friends, are all a bit over the top, but the central family start out so colourless that these characters add some much needed flavour to things. As things get more and more ridiculous, the film loses itself a little, but the strong lead performances carry it through.

Accommodations is a charming look at privilege, marriage and the myths of a creative life, and is a wonderful showcase for promising new voice Amy Miller Gross.