With ‘Ithaca’, her directorial debut, celebrated actor Meg Ryan proves herself to be a consummate storyteller. Taking as its source William Saroyan’s 1943 novel ‘The Human Comedy’, the film is a story of wartime told in fragments and vignettes that remind us that, in the end, war is always the domain of dead young men and their heartbroken mothers.
Marcus Macauley has been stationed in Europe, where he tells an orphaned fellow soldier about his family back in Ithaca. These tales chiefly involve Marcus’s younger brother Homer, who as the film opens takes on a job as a telegraph messenger – employment that involves delivering entirely too many messages giving news of the deaths of young men in battle. Nevertheless, Homer is determined to be the best messenger Ithaca has ever seen.
Reflecting the emotional schizophrenia of wartime, the film oscillates from warm, coming-of-age sequences that bring to mind the comical innocence of Norman Rockwell to scenes heavy with the uneasiness of Edward Hopper and the harsh iciness of the loss of innocence. Supported by brilliant performances, Ryan’s sure-handed direction gives a small family in 1940s America the power to speak out clearly and decisively against a world forever embroiled in conflict.
- Meg Ryan
- Erik Jendresen
- Janet Brenner, Laura Ivey, Erik Jendersen
- John F. Lyons
- Production Designer
- Stephanie Carroll
- John Mellencamp
- Andrew Dunn
- Sales Company
- The Exchange
- Production Company
- Co-Op Entertainment, Apple Lane Productions, Pilothouse Pictures, Playtone
- Selim Ramia & Co.
- Alex Neustaedter, Jack Quaid, Spencer Howell, Sam Shepard, Meg Ryan, Hamish Linklater, Tom Hanks