The controversial and unsentimental storyline in the posted video trailer and full-length movie shown further below is largely Canadian; more on that later, but for now it is worth mentioning that the plot could have occurred either in the U.S. or Canada.
IMDb has this plot summary credited to Production: “A young mother drifts from one motel to the next with her intoxicated boyfriend, and her 8-year-old son. The makeshift family scrapes by, living one hustle at a time, until the discovery of a mobile home community offers an alternative life.”
The movie was frankly met with mixed reviews, as is true of many provocative and gritty movies.
What makes this movie so ‘tough’ is the dark, harsh and often tragic reality of the award-winning director Vladimir de Fontenay tale. Danielle Lessovitz is listed as an “Artistic Collaborator” with French-born screen-writer and director Vladimir de Fontenay.
Without giving away the story line, let’s share some comments and observations. They will help explain why we are sharing this video.
Adult Movie – Strong Language, Nudity – Story Features Criminal Activity, Violence, Partner and Child Abuse Themes – But Also ‘Second Chances’ for a New Life in a Manufactured Home
‘Mom and dad’ or single parents would be advised not to watch this with kids in the room for the R rated reasons noted in that subheading. That said, why are we posting it at all on MHLivingNews? We’ll answer that as follows.
First, as difficult as the first forty or so minutes of this video are – and they are tough on several levels – what makes it dark and challenging are precisely connected to the story’s stark and candid realism. Odds are pretty good that you’ve encountered someone like these fictional characters Ali and Evan.
The “mobile home” part of the movie doesn’t seriously enter the story line until well into the movie. It is as if director-writer de Fontenay wanted his audience to understand just how challenging “Ali” and her 8- year old son “Bone” lives’ were, before revealing a possible solution for their plight.
Mobile or Manufactured Homes, Freedom and Fresh Starts
In the Cannes Film Festival post-screening Q&A video that follows further below, de Fontenay said he wanted to depict the possible “freedom” that “mobile homes” could offer someone. He drew contrasts between the vertical and horizontal realities of the tall home going down the long vertical and often-winding roads.
The English-speaking translator made it plain that de Fontenay was not denigrating “mobile homes,” he was stressing the possible freedom that these factory-built homes offered.
That is one of the reasons why – as challenging as this movie is – we’ve opted to share the video on MHLivingNews. There is hope that tangibly surfaces for Ali and her son as they began to unpack the new life that discovering a manufactured or “mobile” home living could mean for them. Some of the nicest people they meet are working or living in that community, or in building or remodeling manufactured homes.
The snow in the movie was a symbol, said de Fontenay and his Cannes Q&A translator, of innocence and purity. The frigid temperatures and the snow made it harder to film, he stated.
But as the first roughly-40 minutes of the movie reflect, the threesome are anything but innocent.
Without saying as much, that is likely another study in creative story-telling contrasts. If so, what that suggests is that the “mobile home” – or more properly, manufactured homes – were a second or third chance.
Manufactured home living – in the de Fontenay “Mobile Homes” movie – was a way of recapturing lost purity and lost opportunities for a more stable, peaceful life.
“Ali” discovers that living and working in a manufactured home and in a manufactured home community provided an opportunity to restart the difficult life that Imogen Poots’ character Ali and her son were living. That ‘fresh start’ in the snow draped community were part of the storyline. So unlike – for example, the snarky Trailer Park Boys – de Fontenay’s “Mobile Homes” is more of a quiet celebration of what manufactured home living can be.
Rephrased, in de Fontenay’s movie there is no “mobile home” put-down. Indeed, there is no overt moralizing. The drugs, petty and other crimes, violence and abusive behavior provide their own tragic reasons for avoiding the types of decisions that led Evan and Ali into their dicey and high-risk lifestyle before the discovery of “mobile homes.”
In de Fontenay’s production, the best part of what occurs for Ali and Bones was after the mobile home epiphany.
The explanations by character Robert – who slowly befriends Ali – of some common and mistaken notions about manufactured homes are reasonably well done in the casual context of the evolving plot.
Put differently, the story explains manufactured homes and manufactured home living, but does so in a non-preachy fashion.
The director-writer stated at Cannes that he wanted the audience to be able to relate to the different characters. That is apparent and arguably achieved.
While professionals on either side of the border could opine about the difference between manufactured homes in the U.S. vs. our northern neighbor, the reality is that both governments regulate the construction of this form of factory-home building. It is also worth noting that some of what are improperly called ‘mobile homes’ in this movie look more like a park-model RV. Park model RVs can resemble a manufactured home but are routinely built to a different construction standard.
Key Cast, per IMDb:
Evan – played by Callum Turner (“The Only Boy Living in New York” – 2017)
Ali’s son “Bone” – played by acting newcomer, Frank Oulton.
Robert – the man who sells and remodels the manufactured or ‘mobile homes’ (Callum Keith Rennie, who played in “Californication “).
Here’s a full-length version of the movie found on YouTube.
The movie draws to an end with a reference to a story about King Solomon in the Bible. When you see the part about Ali telling her son Bone about the two mothers, that factoid will fill in a blank not explicitly stated by the movie. That reference by Ali is found in 1 Kings 3:16-28.
As gritty and chaotic as the tale is, it puts manufactured homes and manufactured home living in a pretty good light. There are some scenes that would be highly unlikely to occur, but you will likely recognize that when you get to them. That creative license noted, odds are you will either like or dislike this movie for the same reasons that other reviewers did.
This form of art isn’t easy, but it is nevertheless poignant storytelling. While it wouldn’t cause a rush of people to go out and buy a manufactured home, it is certainly far more favorable view then many videos, TV shows or movies in recent years have provided. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Mobile and Manufactured Home Lifestyle News, commentary, and analysis.)
Editors Note: technically, this movie is ‘unrated,’ but if it were rated, it would likely be rated R.
Clicking on text-image graphics will take you to that report.
HUD Study, Analysis of Zoning Discrimination Against Manufactured Housing Sought | Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform
MHARR SEEKS HUD STUDY AND ANALYSIS OF ZONING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST MANUFACTURED HOUSING Washington, D.C., April 8, 2019 – The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), in an April 4, 2019 meeting with HUD policy, analysis and research officials, called on the Department to conduct nationwide research – and follow-up analysis – concerning local zoning mandates that discriminatorily exclude or drastically restrict the placement of federally-regulated manufactured homes to the detriment of lower and moderate-income American families in large areas of the country.