Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Housekeeping is the film in which Christine Lahti invites a guest into a living room half-submerged in water. This is hardly the oddest moment in this offbeat Bill Forsyth film (his first American production). When their mother commits suicide by driving into a lake, Idaho pre-teens Ruth Sara Walker and Lucille (Andrea Burchill) fall into the custody of their Aunt Sylvie (Lahti). This strange young woman has throughout her life made unconventionality a life form. The girls initially aren't sure what to make of their loopy guardian, but in time begin to respond differently to her. When Lucille distances herself from Sylvie's eccentricities and then moves in with a local family, Walker draws closer to the older woman. The two head out on a series of picaresque adventures together, that include stealing a rowboat and riding in boxcars, but Lucille catches wind of this and informs the authorities - who promptly threaten to revoke Sylvie's custody of Ruth. By then, however, Ruth has already begun to closely identify with Sylvie. Director Forsyth adapted his script from a novel by Marilynne Robinson.
accusation, aunt, coming-of-age, conservative, death, eccentric, family, free-spirit, mother, orphan, small-town, teenagers, townspeople