At Home in the Wilderness: Our Review of ‘Acasa (Our Home)’

At Home in the Wilderness: Our Review of ‘Acasa (Our Home)’

No matter what your circumstances may be, it is always hard to rebuild a home when it’s been lost.

Set in the wilderness of the Bucharest Delta, Acasa (My Home) follows the successes and struggles of the Enache family. They live in a one-room shack in the deep brush. That said, the parents and their nine children seem to have developed a caring family unit. Sadly, they are chased out of their home by the police who view their lifestyle as unsafe (or even abusive) for the children. So the Enaches must adapt to live in the big city and try to stay together in the process.

Honest and unflinching, Acasa (My Home) is an unfiltered window into the life of the disenfranchised. Radu Ciorniciuc directs My Home. He truly captures life in its fullness by giving its subjects the opportunity to live free from judgment. His film crew doesn’t interfere. The film, then, truly feels like a ‘fly on the wall’ as the Enache family goes about their daily routines without invasion. Some documentaries bring context to their arguments by way of in-person interviews or voiceovers. Ciorniciuc opts instead to simply let the camera roll and allow the family to live their story onscreen. (In fact, the film is so effective at their commitment to distance. It almost feels like a traditional 3rd person narrative film). In doing so, the film subsequently empowers the family. It allows them to show why their unorthodox lifestyle seems to work despite grueling circumstances.

Unsurprisingly, the soul of My Home is about what it means to have one. Though they fight to survive in the wilderness, the Enaches (somewhat strangely) live harmoniously with one another. The Enaches live across the highway from civilization. They seem to exist in their own world where they all work together to maintain the family unit. No matter their age, every member of the family contributes. That’s true whether it’s helping to cook the meals or breaking up firewood late at night.

Interesting things happen when the Enaches move into the urban center. The new world begins to tear their family relationships. They have to adjust their view of the world in order to ‘make the lives of their children better’. And they find themselves told by others that they need to live to new standards. It’s hard to deny that these support systems create safer situations for the children. That’s true in areas such as education and hygiene. But it’s also fascinating to watch as those same external forces ruin the family. Those forces remove the mutual support and care that they once enjoyed together.

Their home in the wilderness provided an opportunity for mutual support. Meanwhile, their urban environment creates new battles and divisions between then that simply did not exist before. Teens become more frustrated with their parents. Children struggle to meet school standards. Parents must answer to landlords and financial issues. Battles like those may be commonplace to us. But they’re entirely new to the Enaches and threaten the home that they had worked so hard to cultivate. To them, home is a place of safety together. However, their journey to become ‘civilized’ has its risks. Their commitment to one another begins to suffer and cracks appear in the foundation of their relationships.

Powerful and moving, Acasa (My Home) offers some insight into what really disrupts the family. Ciorniciuc’s never interferes with the Enaches yet he always watches them intently. His film is a stunning portrait of what it really means to be a family. It also looks at the forces that we value that could end up tearing it apart.

This post was written by
Born at a very early age, Steve is a Toronto-based writer and podcaster who loves to listen to what matters to our culture on screen. When he first saw Indiana Jones steal the cross of Coronado, he knew his world would never be the same and, since then, he’s found more and more excuses to digest what’s in front of him onscreen. Also, having worked as a youth and community minister for almost 20 years, he learned that stories help everyone engage the world around them. He’s a proud hubby, father (x2) and believes that Citizen Kane, Batman Forever (yes, the Kilmer one), and The Social Network belong in the same conversation. You can hear his ramblings on ScreenFish Radio wherever podcasts are gettable or at his website, ScreenFish.net.
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