Coming Home


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Coming Home
"The strength of this Irish-made film lies in its restraint."

To do time in prison is not simply to lose a piece of one's life; it is to be set adrift in time, fundamentally askew from the wider world. That may never have been more the case than it is today, when popular culture is changing so fast. Angel Cordero spent 13 years of his life in prison. Suddenly it's over and he's out, walking long an ordinary street - grey tarmac, brown fences, green trees. Friends come to meet him and throw their arms around him. In the back of the cab they take out their phones. Angel doesn't even know how to text.

Unfolding like the story of an accidental time traveller, this gently paced documentary uses Angel's technological uncertainty as a metaphor for the difficulty he experiences in fitting back into the world socially. Barely out of childhood when he went inside, he would struggle due to his lack of practical skills even in a more familiar environment, but he also faces two specific challenges. The first is to reconnect with his daughter. The second is to confront the man who actually committed the crime for which he did the time.

Whilst this might sound like a recipe for high drama, the strength of this Irish-made film lies in its restraint. It benefits from a subject who is willing to be completely open about his thoughts and feelings, with nothing ever ringing false. The daughter, being a teenager and resentful that a stranger is trying to replace the dad who raised her, is more distant, but this has the effect of putting the viewer in the same position as Angel as he struggles to find a solution. Meanwhile, the man he must confront is also going through a trying time, fully aware of his debt and awkwardly preparing for a meeting that might not go the way viewers expect.

All this makes for an interesting film with more to say than most such studies, but it is often slow and limited in the scope of its ideas. Though Angel's underlying sweetness will eventually win most viewers over, the story isn't always as strong as it could be and there's a sense of undeveloped potential. Nevertheless it's an impressively nuanced debut from director Viko Nikci.

Reviewed on: 14 Nov 2014
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When Angel Cordero is released from prison after 13 years he has to make his way through a world he hardly recognises to try and reconnect with his daughter.

Director: Viko Nikci

Starring: Angel Cordero

Year: 2014

Runtime: 86 minutes

Country: Ireland


DOC NYC 2014

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