Homer (Alex Neustaedter) has been left at home to care for his mother in the new movie Ithaca, the directorial debut of Meg Ryan. Homer’s older brother has gone to fight World War II, leaving him as the oldest man in the house since their father died years ago. To help bring in money to support his family, Homer takes a job as a telegraph messenger, using his bike to bring messages to and from the telegraph office in town.
This being wartime, of course, many of the messages contain heartbreaking news of someone’s son, father or husband being killed. Bearing that kind of responsibility means Homer has to do some growing up very fast. One message in particular will open a new world to him and become a defining moment in his life. Ryan also stars as Homer’s widowed mother and Sam Shepard plays the owner of the telegraph office who will help Homer navigate the tricky emotional territory he must walk as part of his job.
The first poster puts the spotlight on Homer as we see him in a washed-out photograph pedaling his bike while dressed in his telegram service uniform. That’s all against a backdrop of gathering clouds, which nicely sets the tone of the movie as well as the fact that it takes place during wartime. The cast list appears at the top while headshots are near the bottom, just above the copy promising “One message will change everything.”
We start in the first trailer with a young man, Homer, as he’s given a job with a messenger service, taking messages to and from the telegraph office in a small town at the same time his older brother is fighting in World War II. It’s immediately clear that this is a coming-of-age story for Homer as we see his younger brother ask him to promise to never leave, grow aware of the world around him as his job forces him to deliver bad news to other families and so on. His mother (Ryan) gives him advice on how to deal with a sad world and Homer, we see, will have to decide what sort of man he wants to grow up to be.
That’s about it. There’s not a lot going on here but it’s a solid first outing. The movie, as I said above, is clearly being sold as a coming-of-age story focusing on Homer as he deals with his family and their place in the world. It looks moving in all the right places but what I really got out of it is that I want the John Mellencamp-penned soundtrack right now, dammit.
Online and Social
There’s not a whole lot going on with the official website, which is just a page on the Momentum Pictures site. The trailer is there along with the second poster and a cast list that links to the actor’s and crew’s IMDb profiles.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing here, though it’s likely there’s some online advertising I’m missing that points to the movie’s on-demand release.
Media and Publicity
Of course there was a lot of coverage of the movie that focused, like this, on how it was the reunion of Ryan with Tom Hanks, with the latter making a small appearance in the movie and the two sharing just a moment of screentime together.
Ryan was understandably the face of the majority of the press push, appearing on late night and morning talk shows to talk up the movie.
It’s not a huge campaign, obviously, but it’s not bad. The focus is clearly on the heart of the story, Homer, and the coming of age journey he goes on as he learns some hard lessons about the world he’s living in. The poster is decent and the trailer works well enough to get the story across. It comes across a bit movie-of-the-weekish but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Ryan’s involvement is the key element of the campaign, which is a nice touch. Yeah, it leans a bit heavily on this being a reunion of her and Hanks considering he’s barely in the movie, but it’s understandable that would be called out, though audiences should be wary that angle is a bit overplayed. Overall, though, this sells a decent movie about discovering the world outside yourself.