THE BEAUTY IS IN THE DETAILS
Paul Papadopoulos | Athens Greece | 05/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A relatively short bitter sweet movie about an aging French actor, Michel Piccoli, who is nearing the end of his distinguished career when a tragic accident takes the lives of most of his family, except for one little boy whom he undertakes to look after. Catherine Deneuve has a minor, but not a cameo, role of little significance.The American actor John Malkovich has an important supporting role as an English speaking movie director. The tale embodied in the movie is very simple and predictable but the charm of the film is in the brilliant photography and sounds. It is a great little artistic work. Wonderful clear shots of sights and sounds of contemporary everyday Paris but the beauty is in the details. The Portuguese director, Manuel de Oliveira, is obviously a very good observer of everyday human traits, Aren't we all? But he incorporates them into his movies as nobody else does. The importance of the habitual table, for one specific character who has nothing otherwise to do with the main theme of the film (he is listed in the final credits as "Client with Le Figaro"), at the place where he regularly get takes his petit dejeuner and reads his daily newspaper headlines; the organ grinder, men's shoes as a setting for a conversation, the significance of an old semi-dilapidated town house of faded elegance where the actor dwells, etc, etc. All but the last 15 minutes of the movie are in French, most of the last being in English , for reasons which will not be revealed here but will become obvious to the viewer."
A magnificent offering from a man as old and as wise as cine
Grigory's Girl | NYC | 08/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a gentle, simple, calming film. Manoel de Oliveira, the director, was 93 when he made this film. He is the world's oldest working director. The film is one of the most unhurried, serene films I've ever seen. Many will say it's too slow and boring. I prefer unhurried. The takes are long, the conversations are quiet, yet it seems like a lifetime happens. The story unfolds in a unique, disquieting way. There is a scene in a cafe where you see Michel Piccoli enjoying an expresso, and talking to the waiter, but all you hear is the traffic outside the cafe. De Oliveira makes very interesting and fascinating choices throughout this film. The way the film ends is unique. The film just ends. The main character (Michel Piccoli) just goes home at the end of the film, and that's it. No wrap up, no conclusion. That's probably the point. I don't like to analyse these things too much, so I won't go into symbolism and what have you.
This is one of De Oliveira's most accessible films. It is also one of his few films that has received almost universal critical praise (which is not always a good thing). It is perhaps because it's not really as heavy as his other works can be. Manoel's films are very challenging and many critics complain about his work, saying it's too dry, too intellectual, talky, and pretentious. While de Oliveira's films are talky and intellectual, it's not a bad thing. I find them fascinating.
I'm Going Home, despite not being as "heavy" as other de Oliveira works, is still a wonderful film, and it should be seen by everyone. Only a handful of Manoel's films are available in the US, but you should check them all out. Kudos to Michel Piccoli and John Malkovich for excellent, understated performances. Just one small complaint. The DVD cover makes the film look like some sappy, overly sentimental film about a man and his grandson. It isn't at all.
There are some very good special features on this DVD. Watch the interview with Manoel. He was 93 at the time, yet looks 30 years younger. The commentary by Richard Pena, director of The Film Center at Lincoln Center, is surprisingly light and informative. It's not the typically pretentious film professor like commentary. Manoel is still making interesting, great films. He's an inspiration to all...
How To Master A Foreign Language
Christopher Ammons | Pittsburgh | 03/04/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Exceptional work, this film, for so many reasons. The protagonist is a great actor. Horrible tragedy occurs in his life, but no sentimentality, no neediness, no want want. Same when his new shoes are stolen.
Asked to substitute for a sick actor in Ulysses the protagonist masters the role, demonstrates his understanding of Joyce to be greater than the director's. The advise of his agent on how to study the role is as precious advice on how to learn something as possible: direct, honest and to the point: take your time and study it calmly! Anyone who wants to understand how to master a foreign language should definitely watch this film closely."