Like a House on Fire (2020) Review

Like a House on Fire (2020) 

Canadian feature, “Like a House on Fire,” is the story of a woman Dara (Sarah Sutherland) who returns home to reconnect with the young daughter and estranged husband Danny (Jared Abrahamson) she left two years before. She soon finds that her daughter does not remember her and her husband is with a woman now seven-months pregnant Therese (Dominique Provost-Chalkley). 

Like a House on Fire

The story is emotional all the way through and it does show the complexity of relationships Sutherland’s character (Dara) has with the rest of the characters of the film. She does not see eye to eye with anyone and tries her best to confront the misconceptions people have with her. Her own mother had left her when she was young, and her father had moved on with another woman in his life. When Dara returns back to her home after trying to get well after 2 years, she finds that she has no place to call home. Her husband Danny is with another woman who is pregnant and expecting a girl. Her daughter does not remember her and calls the new woman in her father’s life, mother! 

Dara also deals with the emotions that she experiences and later on finds out that her mother is alive. She goes to meet her mother and finds out that her mother too has moved on and has her own life with her new husband. Despite being lonely and bruised by these complex set of relationships, Dara, takes a 360 degree turn and gets ready to divorce her husband so that he can marry the women in his life and starts parenting again.  

The movie ends with Dara knocking at the door of her ex-husband Danny in order to meet her daughter. There are moments that make one teary enough to feel sorry for the character of Dara, as it feels that she was but innocent in getting away from her family. She was focusing on getting healed, yet what was done was done, and Dara stood at a point of no return.  

Sarah Sutherland

However, the story turns positive towards the end when Dara proves that she wants to work on co-parenting and is ready for it, even though she did not seem in control before. Written and directed by writer-director Jesse Noah Klein (We’re Still Together), overall, the movie, “Like a house on Fire,” is an emotional film that shows the complexity of relationships that was dealt by Dara, yet she comes to terms with everything and realizes that family is all she has.  

Jesse Noah Klein

Director’s Statement – Coming home is rich terrain for a story. I’ve lived much of my life in Montreal though left for about six years to study and then teach in the US. Shortly before returning to Montreal I began to think about this story. About a woman coming back to her hometown and seeing those around her have all moved on. My last film was told entirely from the male perspective and so I think I just naturally gravitated toward a female one. I had seen this story told many times from a man’s point of view—the prodigal son—but less from that of a woman. Before the story really began to take shape in my mind there was always the character Dara. She is the movie’s anchor, its beating heart. While this film began to come together, I got married to someone I have known for much of my life and so ideas about family and parenthood were never far off. My siblings and my closest friends have become parents and it’s something my wife and I talk about for our future. And while there is a rich and full love that comes with being a mother or father, there is also a terror. Of being inadequate, of making a mistake, of loving the wrong way. All of these ideas circled my mind as I began to put Dara’s story together. There is no greater responsibility than bringing a child into this world and with it of course comes joy, but there is also a deep fear. And I wanted to tell a story that oscillates between these two poles as I begin this stage in my own life.  

Principal cast – Sarah Sutherland, Jared Abrahamson, Hubert Lenoir, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, Margaux Vaillancourt, Amanda Brugel, Sheila McCarthy, Michael Riley