Life as a House is a 2001 American drama film produced and directed by Irwin Winkler. The screenplay by Mark Andrus focuses on a man who is anxious to repair his relationship with his ex-wife and teenaged son after he is diagnosed with terminal cancer.
George Monroe, a fabricator of architectural models, is fired from the job he has held for twenty years when he refuses to fall into step with his co-workers and use the computer technology available to them. As he exits the building, he collapses on the pavement and is rushed to the hospital, where it is revealed he has terminal cancer.
Liberated from a job he hated and funded by his severance package as well as a cashed-in life insurance policy, George decides the time has come to demolish the ramshackle home left to him by his father and replace it with a house more in keeping with his upscale neighborhood. He decides to enlist the aid of his son, angst-ridden and self-loathing Sam, a rebellious, pill-popping, glue-sniffing teenager with blue hair, makeup, and a number of piercings. Sam is alienated from his stepfather Peter and his mother Robin finds herself unable to cope. Against his will, Sam must spend the summer with George, who has opted not to reveal his condition, and help him with what will be the final project of his life.
As time passes, George slowly reconnects with Sam. Robin decides to assist as well, and she begins to find herself rediscovering the man she once loved. Also joining in the construction are Alyssa, Sam's classmate who lives in the house next door with her mother Colleen; local policeman Kurt Walker, George's childhood friend; Sam's young half-brothers Adam and Ryan; various neighbors; and eventually Peter, even after separating from Robin when it becomes apparent she has renewed feelings for her ex-husband. Complications arise when cantankerous neighbor David Dokos tries to halt construction because the building's height exceeds the allowable limit by six inches.
George confides in Sam about his difficult relationship with his own father, an abusive man who squandered the family's fortune and killed his wife and seriously injured a young girl in a collision he caused while driving drunk. Upon completion of the house following his father's death, Sam gives it to the young girl, who is now older and has two kids, certain his father would have approved of his decision to do so.
(Alyssa has just kissed George) George: Why did you do that? Alyssa: When you were dating my mom you seemed like a really good kisser. Oh god, she'd die if she found out. George: Let's shut up and let her live.
George: Hindsight. It's like foresight without a future.
Sam: Why don't you just go and beg some money off my Dad, so you can move into some place decent, with a real kitchen and a real bathroom. George: I'd rather sell my nuts to a castrati.
|Release Date||9 September 2001|
|US Box Office||$16,000,000|
|Tagline||Seen from a distance, it's perfect.|
|Sound Mix||DTS, Dolby Digital, SDDS|
|Film Class||Family Drama, Medical Drama|
|Mood||A Good Cry, Only Human, Triumph of the Spirit|
|Themes||Obsessive Quests, Fathers and Sons, Battling Illness, Haunted By the Past, Midlife Crises|
|Tones||Atmospheric, Autumnal, Bittersweet, Cathartic, Heartwarming, Reflective, Talky|