This Is Where We Live is the debut of actor Marc Menchaca (Homeland, Generation Kill) as a writer and co-director. The film was a draw for me at the SXSW Film Festival due to its trailer which showcased the cinematography and a touching, realistic story.
The film is about Noah Warden (Marc Menchaca) who is a drifter of sorts with a complicated past. He is hired on to make a wheelchair ramp for the Sutton family, who has an older child with cerebral palsy named August (Tobias Segal). Diane (CK McFarland) is the matriarch of this family that is falling apart due to medical issues. Her son is disabled and her husband, Bob (Ron Hayden), has Alzheimer’s. Her daughter, Lainey (Frances Shaw), is lazy and neglects to support the family and her mother. Recognizing a possible connection between Noah and August, Diane persuades Noah to become a caretaker for August during the day. The relationship transforms Noah and helps him address his past.
This is a very simple film that does not have a lot of bells and whistles, but excels at how it tells its story and has stellar actor performances.
Not many films depict what a family caregiver has to endure on a daily basis. Diane Sutton does it all; providing for her family, taking care of both her mentally-disabled husband and her physically-disabled son. She is on a short leash, neglecting herself for the good of her family. She has a breaking point, and the film shows honestly what it is like for someone like Diane. To her credit, CK McFarland gets who Diane is through and through. The stress of what her daily life is like is evident on her face and the way she carries herself, but the love for her family is still there.
No review of this film is complete without mentioning Tobias Segal who plays August. Segal is a completely normal, average person in real life, but transforms himself convincingly into a young man with cerebral palsy. The amount of talent required physically and emotionally to put yourself in someone’s shoes like August is immense. With limited speech, Segal is able to display his likes, dislikes, and frustrations to the audience. Talking with Marc Menchaca, he said that Segal spent some time with Menchaca’s friend, Thomas, who has cerebral palsy. He then came to set in this finished state of portraying August.
There are some very poignant scenes in the film, but the one that stands out the most is when Diane and Bob are lying in bed. Diane recognizes in Bob that he is all there in that moment. What follows is a brief, but touching scene of gratefulness and love.
This Is Where We Live is a very moving film that portrays struggles on many different levels. There are some Christian elements in the film that do not become apparent until toward the end, but this is not a Christian film. While this may discourage some from seeing it, this film should be known for its story, performances, and beautiful cinematography. Marc Menchaca, along with Josh Barrett, made a really fantastic first film that will hopefully be seen by a larger audience.
I give This Is Where We Live 4 “Walker Texas Ranger badges” out of 5.
by Sarah Ksiazek