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Gbenga Akinnagbe (Jack) in "Home." (November 21, 2013)

It's easy to see why anyone would want to leave a group home for the mentally ill. Surrounded by unstable personalities, subject to the harshness of institutional life and overseen by a rotating cast of condescending physicians, a nervous and kind but formerly violent patient named Jack (an excellent Gbenga Akinnagbe) attempts to rebuild his life by making a transition from his clinical residence to a place of his own. The great achievement in writer-director Jono Oliver's poignant, superb debut, "Home," lies in the balance between the film's empathy for those like Jack who seek independence and its compassion for others who may need care indefinitely.

Unluckily, Jack quickly finds himself priced out of the apartment for which he'd all but signed the lease agreement. His father (Joe Morton) refuses to help with a loan, encouraging him to stay in the group home instead: "You live there with others, um, like you. The staff cooks your food, helps you with your laundry and brushes your teeth. Whatever you need, right?" "I brush my own teeth," Jack flatly informs him. 

ON LOCATION: Where the cameras roll

But Jack has more than his pride to look after. A home is also a precondition in reestablishing a relationship with his young son (Judah Bellamy). But teaching the boy about becoming a man begins to feel cruel when Jack is so rarely treated like one himself.

"Home." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 52 minutes. At Arena Cinema, Hollywood.