Housekeeping - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Housekeeping Reviews

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Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
April 16, 2010
"And there was an end to housekeeping."

(Sorry. I just love that quote.)

There are rare films that I like to watch over and over again which has happened increasingly less as time goes on. Of those, three films by Bill Forsyth are prime examples that combine high quality with unmatched enjoyment. They are "Gregory's Girl," "Local Hero" and "Houskeeping" which form an informal trilogy containing characters who feel out of place.

I saw "Housekeeping" for the first time in a long time in New York City last night and recall having seen it on campus shortly after it came out. And I loved it then, and love it now, especially Bill Forsyth's perfectly unassuming direction, classic dialogue and gorgeous cinematography. Basically, it is about two sisters, Ruth(Sara Walker) and Lucille(Andrea Burchill) who are left with their grandmother(Georgie Collins) in Fingerbone shortly before their mother(Margot Pinvidic) drives into a lake. The grandmother's death brings in two elderly aunts(Anne Pitoniak & Barbara Reese) who in turn contact the mother's vagabond sister Sylvie(Christine Lahti) before departing suddenly, leaving her more or less in charge.

One of my prime memories of "Housekeeping" is the scene where Sylvie breaks out in laughter at an advertisement for vacuum cleaners that perfectly expresses the domesticity of the 1950's when the movie is set. When I first saw the movie, I thought she is simply rejecting traditional roles. Watching it now, I picked up on some additional dialogue which not only gives new meaning to that scene but also hints at Sylvie's dark past which she will not speak to her nieces about when they are desperately looking for information about their mother. This is important since Sylvie's relationship to her sister reflects on the present relationship between Ruth and Lucille. It also gives a deeper impression that she had some more experience in a home than otherwise indicated and explains her ambivalence towards household chores, preferring the freedom of the open road, as she takes life in stride, where the unknown is preferable to the known. In the moment, she stays longer than normal in a small town, where rules can be bent but not broken, that tolerates her eccentricity up to a point and is still haunted by a disastrous train crash decades before.
½ September 27, 2011
Sara Walker and Christine Lahti have pretty decent chemistry, but I thought the sisters, when on screen together, were reading off cue cards or something. Was this intentional to try and illustrate the growing rift betwixt the two? Because it just looked like they were bad actors. Didn't expect Mike Hamar (Wayne Robson) to show up, that was a nice surprise. The story is great.
August 14, 2007
6.5/10. Nicely done film with fine performances and a keen sense of capturing the era it was filmed. Good photography. Christine Lahti gives an exceptional performance, as always.
½ January 20, 2016
Fantastically sleepy coming-of-age film, with a real VHS-era warmth to it. Doesn't have too much of a Bill Forsyth feel to it, but it seems that Forsyth may have admirably forsaken his own ego or vision in giving the book an accurate treatment for screen. Relatively long, but never a slog, with perfectly pitched performances, particularly by Lahti who convincingly, and sympathetically, conveys her oddball character without going all the way to some tastelessly 'wacky' caricature. Difficult to find in the UK, but certainly worth watching and available to on some online rental sites.
December 17, 2012
Monday, December 17, 2012

(1987) Housekeeping
DRAMA

Saw this film quite awhile back and remembered liking what I saw dwelling on an eccentric aunt (Christine Lahti) looking after two young sisters who are drawn to her for her unconventional ways.

3 out of 4
January 20, 2011
Magical dramedy with Christine Lahti's best performance. Wholly satisfying movie.
October 14, 2014
Beautifully shot film that manages to explore not only an unconventional woman and her nieces in a 60s small town but also the relationship between siblings. It made me want to take the family and move to the mountains for a while.
November 3, 2013
This charming film is a hidden 80's gem that never ages. It's a bold and beautiful story about a family. First off, all the major characters are women, second the relationship between the two young sisters is touching and believable, Third, the film doesn't shy away from being painful and awkward. It's funny, highly original and the performances are pitch-perfect in an offbeat manner. Best of all, the film never judges the characters, Instead, it celebrates the individual. Be true to who you are. Even if it means alienating some of your family. The movie doesn't offer any easy answers, yet by the end, one can tell the characters love one another. Bill Forsyth constantly focuses on moments that are free from cliche and unexpected. It's a story that needs to be told because there is undoubtedly countless people out there who could relate to Sylvie and Ruth.
February 19, 2013
One of those rare feats: a perfect little film, perfect the way Mozart's Perfect Little Symphony is perfect, and underrated. It should be taught in film studies curricula everywhere.
October 30, 2011
I tried six months ago to locate a copy of the VHS of Housekeeping, but only located one available in the world online for $150.00. Thank goodness for bootleggers being there when you need them. You know, when the major studios sit on their back catalogue because they are afraid children and drugees won't be interested in it. Now, are we gonna see a decent copy of Chimes at Midnight on DVD ever?
½ September 27, 2011
Sara Walker and Christine Lahti have pretty decent chemistry, but I thought the sisters, when on screen together, were reading off cue cards or something. Was this intentional to try and illustrate the growing rift betwixt the two? Because it just looked like they were bad actors. Didn't expect Mike Hamar (Wayne Robson) to show up, that was a nice surprise. The story is great.
July 2, 2011
I just saw this move on the Sony Movie Channel in HD TV. Looks like I missed this one until tuning into the movie by mere chance, I had never heard of the movie or any of the actors except for Christine Lahti, who plays the sister of the mother who split the scene, leaving the sisters without any memories of her. There are some photographs left behind for the sister's to wonder about. Their grandmother raise's the girls and dies, leaving 2 great-aunts to come to the house and resume this role. The girls know a lot about their deceased grandfather. Then into the house comes their mother's sister and the 2 great-aunts see their chance to escape with her arrival and they do.

When Sylvie slips into the scene she shocks the girls great-aunts when she tells them she walked a long distance to get to the house in the bitter cold on icy roads wearing light cloths without boots. Her entrance tells you something is unique about who she is and thus the girls life change's in a big way as they soon discover it will be up to them to make decisions about how they spend their time. With their new freedom, they skip school and explored the nearby country as had their grandfather, yet for the younger sister, Lucille, this became boring and is left with a feeling of isolation from society. Her taller older sister, Ruth seems to not mind this lifestyle and was only following her sisters lead as she soon does with her aunt.

I was amazed at the lack of information Sylvie was able to pass on to the 2 sisters about her mother when they began to question her about their mother. They were not able to fill in the missing gap about who their mother was, a big missing piece of the puzzle for the girls to help them figure out who they were and what they were to become.

When Lucille rejoins society she attempts to take her sister with her, but soon gives up and leaves to go live with a family in town who lives a normal life. This set's the fate of her Ruth as your will discover after watching this movie.

I like how the characters in this movie let each other go their own ways without pressuring them to change. Even when a few ladies from a church comes to visit Sylvie (they learn of some odd behavior by Sylvie) the meeting is low keyed and compassionate about what has been going on. It is only when the sheriff steps in one to many times out of concern for Ruth that you get a sense of impending doom is going to occur. This must be the moral of the movie, that one to many actions we take in life rather than justing letting nature take its natural course. After all, the path had been set into motion from others long before we get to the scene.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
April 16, 2010
"And there was an end to housekeeping."

(Sorry. I just love that quote.)

There are rare films that I like to watch over and over again which has happened increasingly less as time goes on. Of those, three films by Bill Forsyth are prime examples that combine high quality with unmatched enjoyment. They are "Gregory's Girl," "Local Hero" and "Houskeeping" which form an informal trilogy containing characters who feel out of place.

I saw "Housekeeping" for the first time in a long time in New York City last night and recall having seen it on campus shortly after it came out. And I loved it then, and love it now, especially Bill Forsyth's perfectly unassuming direction, classic dialogue and gorgeous cinematography. Basically, it is about two sisters, Ruth(Sara Walker) and Lucille(Andrea Burchill) who are left with their grandmother(Georgie Collins) in Fingerbone shortly before their mother(Margot Pinvidic) drives into a lake. The grandmother's death brings in two elderly aunts(Anne Pitoniak & Barbara Reese) who in turn contact the mother's vagabond sister Sylvie(Christine Lahti) before departing suddenly, leaving her more or less in charge.

One of my prime memories of "Housekeeping" is the scene where Sylvie breaks out in laughter at an advertisement for vacuum cleaners that perfectly expresses the domesticity of the 1950's when the movie is set. When I first saw the movie, I thought she is simply rejecting traditional roles. Watching it now, I picked up on some additional dialogue which not only gives new meaning to that scene but also hints at Sylvie's dark past which she will not speak to her nieces about when they are desperately looking for information about their mother. This is important since Sylvie's relationship to her sister reflects on the present relationship between Ruth and Lucille. It also gives a deeper impression that she had some more experience in a home than otherwise indicated and explains her ambivalence towards household chores, preferring the freedom of the open road, as she takes life in stride, where the unknown is preferable to the known. In the moment, she stays longer than normal in a small town, where rules can be bent but not broken, that tolerates her eccentricity up to a point and is still haunted by a disastrous train crash decades before.
½ March 24, 2010
This is quite the film. Its a gorgeous, poetic coming of age story sorta. This film was marketed as a comedy which is ridiculous. It has some charming comedic things going on but this film is most certainly a genuine drama about well, its very hard to pigeon hold it to one specfic thing. I guess its a film about perception of the world. The pacific west is a beautiful atmospheric setting for this story. Christine Lahiti is fantastic in this film as the odd Aunt Sylvia. Its a shame this isnt available on dvd.
December 6, 2009
mismarketed like you wouldn't believe, gorgeous, tender, adjectives, fuck. not enough stars, put this shit on dvd STAT.
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