Almost fifty years after Perry Henzell’s The Harder They Come put Jamaica on the cinematic map, the late director’s long-lost second feature No Place Like Home, which went into production in 1973, at last achieves a theatrical release. Reconstructed and restored, this definitive version of the film is both a sun-kissed love letter to Jamaica and a thoughtful examination of it.
Susan (Susan O’Meara) is the American producer of a shampoo commercial being shot in Jamaica. When the star, PJ (PJ Soles, Carrie and Halloween), abandons the shoot, Susan sets out to find her, with charismatic local fixer Carl (Carl Bradshaw, The Harder They Come). Making their way through the countryside Susan and Carl find themselves attracted to each other. Neither of them, however, has any illusions about the separate and unequal worlds to which they belong.
If The Harder They Come took its cues from Sergio Leone’s westerns and the Blaxploitation films of Gordon Parks and Melvin Van Peebles, the naturalistic and improvised No Place Like Home reveals Perry Henzell’s affinity with the cinema of John Cassavetes, Robert Altman and Dennis Hopper. This is a pleasantly meandering road movie, one that celebrates Jamaica’s natural beauty even as it casts a wary eye over the island’s tourist economy and the complications that come with it, with a soundtrack to rival that of The Harder They Come (and Grace Jones in her first screen role!). No Place Like Home is a rich and satisfying film, the memorable last testament of an undeniably great filmmaker.