Where the heart is: the music, film and more about feeling homesick | Culture

Film – ET: The Extra-Terrestrial

An obvious choice I know, but no other movie is quite so tied up with homesickness as ET: The Extra-Terrestrial. Defining an emotional response is what the best version of Steven Spielberg does: Jaws, for example, remains the set text for abyssal terror. But here the vibe is the particular pang of displacement, and the longer the story goes on the more Spielberg also makes us face an awkward truth: that the gnaw of missing home can be so all-consuming not even the love of a moppety kid can persuade you to stick around. Elliott got his heart broken; ET kept watching the sky. Danny Leigh

TV – Gilmore Girls

Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel in Gilmore Girls.
Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel in Gilmore Girls. Photograph: PictureLux/The Hollywood Archive/Alamy

Halfway through the series Gilmore Girls, Rory, whose narrative arc has been dictated by her dream of going to an Ivy League university, finds herself completely homesick within hours of starting at Yale. Speaking to her mother, Lorelai, she says: “I have to share a bathroom! I’ve never had to share a bathroom with anyone but you before.” Still, the feeling of missing home and our mothers is wildly relatable – whether it’s tucking into your first cheap and slimy student meal as a fresher, or years later when you have your own children and suddenly find yourself longing for your mother’s nagging voice. Jason Okundaye

The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon
Photograph: Penguin Classics

Books – The Lonely Londoners

One of the many magic tricks Sam Selvon carries off in The Lonely Londoners is to make us so keenly aware of the ache his characters feel at leaving their home in the Caribbean – while only rarely mentioning this sadness. The novel focuses on making things work in the here and now of 1950s London, during the arrival of the first generation of Windrush immigrants. It’s mainly about movement and action, the dreams of the future and the needs of the present. But that just makes the few quiet moments of memory and longing all the more poignant. Sam Jordan

Music – Hometown Glory

Adele. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

Adele’s most affecting work dates all the way back to her debut single. With its warm, cinematic piano, Hometown Glory draws strength from her locale’s vibrant community spirit, to create a defiant, multicultural sense of home that is always worth protecting. I rarely feel patriotic, but watching the now LA-based expat performing those stirring lines at her Glastonbury headline slot in the aftermath of 2016’s Brexit vote, I truly understood that it is the people who make the place. Jenessa Williams

Stage – Red Pitch

Red Pitch.
Red Pitch. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

Tyrell Williams’s brilliant new play Red Pitch unfolds against the low hum of drilling and building work. Gentrification is steadily transforming the south London estate that lifelong friends Omz, Bilal and Joey have always called home. Fried chicken shops are being replaced with Costas. The landscape is shifting. The future is uncertain. For now, the boys still have each other and the local football pitch, their home from home. And the very best bit? For one joyous night at the theater, it’s our home, too. Miriam Gillinson