Review: At Home By Myself With You

Last night The Royal screened, to an enthusiastic audience, the Toronto opening of At Home By Myself With You.  The presence of the director (Kris Booth), producer, and members of the cast added to the ‘film-premiere’ feeling of the event (I totally love it when films are introduced by someone on stage!).

After viewing this charming, lighthearted romantic comedy (set and filmed in Toronto), I can safely say that director Kris Booth certainly made the very most of his tiny $40,000 budget!
At Home is a small, sweet movie, filmed entirely in one woman’s apartment, and relying on the talents of its actors to carry it.  It centres on a young woman with a lot of phobias; lobsters, kissing, storms, and opening boxes.  In fact, Romy (Kristen Booth) hasn’t left her apartment in years.  She relies on her UPS delivery man, best friend Erin (Shauna MacDonald), and neighbour Bessie (Rosemary Dunsmore) to help her get the things she needs, and more importantly open the boxes of stuff that she’s ordered.
Romy’s life begins to unravel when Bessie dies unexpectedly and her nephew (Aaron Abrams) moves in to clear out her apartment.  I won’t spoil the rest of it for you, but suffice it to say, this new neighbour makes Romy question a lot of things about her life, her future, and her phobias.
The addition of Gordon Pinsent’s narration is spot-on (I kind of want him to narrate my life), but after it’s great opening sequence, the first 15 minutes are a bit slow.  However, director Booth quickly picks up the pace, the humour, and adds a little more emotional depth to the characters, and I quickly forgot about the slightly lacklustre beginning.  As the film progresses, the characters feel less and less like caricatures, and more like people.
This is a sweet movie, charming and slightly goofy, filled with solid acting performances, especially those of Booth and Abrams.  Also notable were Shauna MacDonald as Erin and Raoul Bhaneja as Waylon (who, the last time I saw him, was singing some jazzy blues at The Silver Dollar Room – the man can sing).
Basically, I smiled most of the way through it (and with most Romantic Comedies, I’m either bored or groaning aloud).  It’s only playing this week at The Royal, so check out their website for showtimes.