Je rentre à la maison

One of the biggest surprises of Cannes this year was that the usually austere veteran Manoel de Oliveira contributed what proved to be one of the crowd-pleasing comedy hits of the festival. Oliveira’s sense of humour is often overlooked, but I’m Going Home shows the nonagenarian Portuguese master indulging his sense of the absurd in this poised tragi-comedy about art and ageing. Michel Piccoli plays Gilbert Valence, a venerated French actor who reappraises his life after his wife and children are tragically killed. Seemingly out of place both in the modern world and in the realm of showbiz, Valence nevertheless takes up his agent’s suggestion of playing Buck Mulligan in a film adaptation of Joyce’s Ulysses. A wigged-up Piccoli speaking heavily French-accented Irishisms is one of the bizarre spectacles of the yearoespecially under the aegis of a director played by John Malkovich at his most world-weary. Elsewhere Oliveira brings his dry wit to bear on the excesses of TV drama, the pleasures of brand new shoes and the etiquette of choosing your cafe table. With Piccoli at his wryest and stateliest, I’m Going Home really is a meeting of old mastersobut their sense of mischief is as sparky as it’s ever been.
France-Portugal, 2001. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby stereo SR. 90 min.

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