The House We Lived In Image

The House We Lived In

By Bobby LePire | March 14, 2024

The House We Lived In is director Tim O’Donnell’s chronicle of his father’s recovery after a traumatic brain injury. In 2011, Todd O’Donnell, the filmmaker’s father, passed out at home and was rushed to the emergency room. The elder O’Donnell was in a coma and, after waking up, needed physical therapy. Unfortunately, despite his demeanor and the doctors’ and nurses’ best efforts, no one can guarantee when or if he’ll ever get back to “normal.”

However, there is something much more serious going on with Todd O’Donnell besides his physical needs. The brain injury that put him in the hospital also erased the last 20 or 25 years from his memory. Tim O’Donnell and his siblings quiz their father on the house they lived in most, if not all, of their lives. Sadly, their dad cannot recall. Who does somebody become when their past is erased? Will Todd O’Donnell ever get those memories — happy, sad, and anger-inducing — back?

The brain injury that put him in the hospital also erased the last 20 or 25 years from his memory.”

The House We Lived In covers a decade of Todd O’Donnell’s recovery. This aspect is very inspirational and sweet. Witnessing how the family rallies around their patriarch shows tenderness. A stand-out scene involves Tim O’Donnell and his mom discussing the one place Todd O’Donnell is back to his old self: the sports betting den. Hearing them describe the smile on his face and how his voice is back is heartening.

As good as all that is, what makes the film stand out is its style. In trying to perceive memories, discover one’s identity, and understand what makes a person tick, Tim O’Donnell makes highly creative choices. Interestingly, the director and his family immerse their pop in the environment by taking him to the house to piece together each room. The filmmaker also sets up screens and projectors and plays old home videos to his father. The way these moments are filmed is captivatingly beautiful. The footage and lighting make the room look like an immersive art exhibit. When O’Donnell is in the room, the videos play on him as well, visually capturing what was lost on this new being who is lucky to be alive.

The House We Lived In is a beautiful and soulful film. The narrative of Todd O’Donnell regaining himself, even if different than before, is stirring and highly emotional. The way the documentary conveys these aching themes and stories is nothing short of astonishing. The power of the film’s heart is matched only by the power of its visuals.

For more information, visit the official The House We Lived In Facebook page.

The House We Lived In (2024)

Directed and Written: Tim O'Donnell

Starring: Todd O'Donnell, Tim O'Donnell, etc.

Movie score: 9.5/10

The House We Lived In Image

"…beautiful and soulful..."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon