Ithaca (film)

Ithaca is a 2015 American drama film directed by Meg Ryan and written by Erik Jendresen. It is based on the 1943 novel The Human Comedy by William Saroyan. The film stars Alex Neustaedter, Jack Quaid, Meg Ryan, Sam Shepard, Hamish Linklater and Tom Hanks. The film was released on September 9, 2016, by Momentum Pictures.

Ithaca (film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMeg Ryan
Produced byJanet Brenner
Laura Ivey
Erik Jendresen
Written byErik Jendresen
Based onThe Human Comedy
by William Saroyan
StarringAlex Neustaedter
Meg Ryan
Jack Quaid
Sam Shepard
Hamish Linklater
Tom Hanks
Music byJohn Mellencamp
CinematographyAndrew Dunn
Edited byJohn F. Lyons
Apple Lane Productions
Distributed byMomentum Pictures
Release date
  • October 23, 2015 (2015-10-23) (Middleburg Film Festival)
  • September 9, 2016 (2016-09-09) (United States)
Running time
96 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States


In 1942, Homer Macauley (Alex Neustaedter) is a boy determined to be the best and fastest bicycle telegraph messenger of the small fictional town of Ithaca, CA. His older brother, Marcus (Jack Quaid), along with most of the young men of the town, has gone to serve in World War II, leaving the families worried. His father (Tom Hanks) has died recently in the war and the boy has to take care of his widowed mother (Meg Ryan), his older sister and his 4-year-old brother. Homer delivers letters that bring messages of love, wishes, pain, and death, hoping that one of them announces the return of his brother.



On January 29, 2014, it was announced Meg Ryan would direct Ithaca, a film based on the 1943 novel The Human Comedy by William Saroyan, with Ryan, Sam Shepard, Hamish Linklater, and Ryan's son Jack Quaid starring in the film.[2] On June 25, 2014, Tom Hanks joined the cast.[3] Principal photography began on July 21, 2014, and ended on August 22, 2014.[4][5] It was filmed in Petersburg, Virginia, and also some opening scenes of the film were shot on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.[6]


The film premiered on October 23, 2015, at the Middleburg Film Festival.[7] The film was released on September 9, 2016, by Momentum Pictures.[8]


John Mellencamp, Ryan's boyfriend, wrote the entire score for the movie. "Not one note [in Ithaca] is anything other than Mellencamp. He did everything," Ryan said.[9]

In a May 6, 2016 Q&A after a screening of the movie at Geena Davis' Bentonville Film Festival, Ryan said: "The music is so beautiful. John Mellencamp wrote every note – everything – the tiny little needle drops you hear in the back. He wrote about half of it after I read him the script, and then the next half after he saw the movie. He's just incredible."[10]

In addition to the score, Mellencamp wrote two original songs for Ithaca: "Sugar Hill Mountain" (sung by Carlene Carter) and "Seeing You Around" (sung by Leon Redbone). "Sugar Hill Mountain" is a fiddle-driven folk song that describes an idyllic location where there's "bubble gum and cigarette trees," no clocks, every day is spring, and anything you need is "gratis." Meanwhile, the piano-heavy "Seeing You Around" has the sound of a 1940s standard (the time period the movie takes place in) and is made all the more authentically '40s-sounding by Redbone's gruff, baritone vocals. Mellencamp's band provided the backing on both tracks and performed all the music that is in the movie.

Said Carter in 2015: "The way John Mellencamp and I met was he invited me to come and sing this song he had written for the movie that Meg Ryan has coming out called Ithaca. That was when we became friends, when I went to Indiana and recorded with him and the guys this really cool song called 'Sugar Hill Mountain' that's in the movie. And the movie is wonderful. We got to see a rough cut of it and I was very impressed."[11]

Critical receptionEdit

The film has a 22% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on eighteen reviews.[12]


  1. ^ "Ithaca". Virginia Film Festival. Retrieved 2015-09-30. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Berlin: Meg Ryan To Direct 'Ithaca' With Tom Hanks Executive Producing; The Exchange Selling At EFM". 2014-01-29. Retrieved 2014-07-25. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b "Tom Hanks in Talks to Reunite With Meg Ryan in 'Ithaca'". 2014-06-25. Retrieved 2014-07-25. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "On The Set For 7/21/14: Meg Ryan Directs & Stars In 'Ithaca' Adaptation Starting For Playtone, TWC's 'Tulip Fever' Wraps". Retrieved 2014-07-25. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "On The Set For 8/25/14: Tom Cruise – Christopher McQuarrie Reteam 'Mission: Impossible 5′ Starts, Tom Hanks – Meg Ryan's 'Ithaca' Wraps". Retrieved 2 October 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Woodrow, John (2012-12-14). "Meg Ryan and 'Spotlight' come to the Middleburg Film Festival". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-10-24. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Ithaca (World Premiere!)". Middleburg Film Festival. Retrieved 2015-10-13. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Nolfi, Joey (2016-07-27). "Ithaca trailer: Meg Ryan reunites with Tom Hanks in directorial debut". Retrieved 2016-07-28. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Meg Ryan Hits Film Festivals With Directorial Debut 'Ithaca' – And A Little Help From Tom Hanks: Q&A". October 21, 2015.
  10. ^ "Meg Ryan finds a 'place at the table' with directorial debut Ithaca". Entertainment Weekly. May 7, 2016.
  11. ^ "Carlene Carter Interview". Songfacts. April 2015.
  12. ^ "Ithaca (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2020-05-07. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External linksEdit