I'm Going Home (Je Rentre a la Maison)

on September 07, 2001 by Ed Scheid
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   Unlike many previous films from Portuguese filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira which were based on classical literary works, “I'm Going Home” depicts contemporary problems facing an aging actor. Michel Piccoli, the star of decades of European masterworks like Jean-Luc Godard's “Contempt” (1963) and Jacques Rivette's “La Belle Noiseuse” (1991), portrays Gilbert Valence, a celebrated French thespian. The film begins on Gilbert performing the lead role in Ionesco's “Enter the King” (among his fellow actors is an elegant Catherine Deneuve), but as he leaves the stage Gilbert is told by his friend and agent (Antoine Chappey) that his wife, daughter and son-in-law have been killed in a car crash.

   Gilbert adjusts to the tragedy by spending time with his beloved grandson and continuing his work in the theatre, including a role as Prospero in Shakespeare's “The Tempest.” He becomes comfortable with his life of solitude. His agent offers him the major part in a TV film dominated by sex and violence; wanting to maintain his standards, Gilbert turns down the part. He accepts a role in an English-language film version of Joyce's “Ulysses” offered by an American director (John Malkovich in a zesty supporting role). It soon becomes apparent that Gilbert's stage productions reflect his life.

   Piccoli gives a superb performance full of deep feeling. Whatever happens to Gilbert, life remains a continual adventure with further acting challenges.

   De Oliveira suffuses his wise and captivating film with a playful humor. Though the nighttime streets are dangerous, de Oliveira visualizes Paris as an amusement park with festive lights and music. Like his lead character, Manoel de Oliveira has a remarkable vitality.    Starring Michel Piccoli, Antoine Chappey, Leonor Baldaque and John Malkovich. Directed and written by Manoel de Oliveira. Produced by Paulo Branco. A Milestone release. Comedy/Drama. French-language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 90 min.

Tags: Michel Piccoli, Antoine Chappey, Leonor Baldaque and John Malkovich. Directed and written by Manoel de Oliveira. Produced by Paulo Branco. A Milestone release. Comedy/Drama, streets, sex, violence, solitude, adventure
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