Richard Curson-Smith, BBC TV, 2003
BBC Two Saturday 15 January 2005 9pm-10pm
The ostensibly calm and courteous Gerald Ballantyne lives in and embodies modern suburbia. But he is haunted by the memory of a recent car crash and hounded by his estranged wife and her demands for divorce. Slowly, a festering insanity takes over and unwilling to face the outside world he embarks on a lunatic experiment. Confining himself to his middle-class home, he eschews contact with others and survives entirely off 'food' which he can find in his house.
Home is based on JG Ballard's short story, The Enormous Space, found in his 1990 anthology, War Fever. The tale contains an abundance of themes familiar from the author's later works, such as a pivotal car crash, a burgeoning insanity, an interest in inner, as opposed to outer space, and most obviously, a sinister take on modern, suburban life. It's a difficult story to adapt as it runs the risk of becoming static and predictable, but writer/director Richard Curson-Smith employs enough legitimate tricks and technical imagination to fashion a compelling drama. He confidently exploits his intelligent script, bristling with twists and black humour, and Andrew Phillips' excellent, atmospheric score heightens the tension in this grim and at times ghoulish parable.
Both Antony Sher and Curson-Smith researched exhaustively prior to the two-week shoot, visiting Polar explorers, food scientists and agoraphobics in order to get a precise picture of the various elements which make up Ballantyne. The results are exceptional and Sher delivers a disturbingly naturalistic performance, and even when the adaptation ventures into the avant-garde he remains chillingly believable as a mad, middle-class messiah.
The director cited Roman Polanski as a creative inspiration for the work, specifically name-checking his mid-60s movies, Cul-de-Sac and Repulsion. These were films, he suggests, which were "unbearingly compelling to watch". With its blend of horror, humour and inevitable tragedy, the same could be said to apply to this imaginative new drama.