Does anything sound familiar with that title? Well, Homefront is certainly going for the Homeland audience, but doesn’t come close to the emotional frankness of that US favourite.
It’s a shame that Homefront couldn’t do more with its premise, since dealing with soldiers and their families is certainly not an emotionally baron subject matter. This said, Homefront is a strange little series that seems only able to muster the smallest amount of emotional momentum, with a talented cast somehow struggling with the weight of their responsibility to real-life soldiers and their families. We follow veteran wife Paula (Claire Higgins), new widow Tasha (Antonia Thomas), former nurse Louise (Nicola Stephenson), and newbie Claire (Claire Skinner), as they deal with the day to day turmoil of waiting back home.
For people unfamiliar with the standard living arrangements of these families, like me, it may come as a surprise that they all live in the same neighbourhood. This should give Homefront a closed in, cut off, feel but isn’t used to the show’s full advantage during this first episode. Some of the families contain children, for example, and I hope future episodes go more in depth with their experiences within such a strange environment. The conceit is used to chilling effect once when the street gets a morbid visitor, causing all of the spouses not a home to rush to their front doors, hoping a praying that the message isn’t for them.
There’s a constant fear of loss which I’m sure would drive people slightly mad, but any sense of community or shared feeling gets a little lost in translation. The episode focuses almost completely on Tasha, played by Misfits actress Antonia Thomas, as she learns of her husband’s death, and the drop-in visits and highly populated funeral are our only glimpses at what must be a regular occurrence in the area. This is the problem with Homefront, since it has nothing deeper or more meaningful to say than what we hear on the news every week. This is not the untold story, but a surface-skimming depiction of the trauma going on just next door.
There is, of course, a couple of biting moments that’ll make anybody sit up and watch. As newcomer Claire, looking after her fiancé’s teenage daughter in his absence, arrives to offer her condolences to Tasha, for example, she mistakenly uses the front door. Around here, she’s told, a formal knock of the front door can mean so much more, and they’re best to go around the back or tap on a window. It’s a detail you imagine was taken from real experiences, and is a rare moment of truth in what is essentially a soap opera about life back home. Similarly, Paula’s the matter of fact response to her son’s death points to something monumentally sadder, as the veteran wife holds it together for the sake of her family.
What did you think of Homefront? Will the show build on its promise or languish in mediocrity? Let us know in the comments.
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