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Catherine Deneuve - 8/12
Remind Me

I'm Going Home

From the prolific Portuguese writer/director Manoel de Oliveira comes this thoughtful 2001 French language drama I'm Going Home (Je Rentre à la Maison). Set in modern day Paris, the film follows Gilbert Valence (played by the great French actor Michel Piccoli), an esteemed aging thespian who is fiercely dedicated to his craft and comfortable in his daily routine. When he receives the devastating news that his wife, daughter and son-in-law have all been killed in a car accident, he must cope with the loss as he takes in his young grandson to live with him. As time moves on, he must also come to terms with the inevitability of his own decline and mortality.

I'm Going Home is a quiet, fascinating character study that resonates long after its initial viewing. Inspired by a real-life incident involving a renowned actor and themes of loss and the ravages of time, the film undoubtedly touches on personal and philosophical issues close to de Oliveira himself. Having been making films since the early 1930s, de Oliveira directed I'm Going Home at the remarkable age of 92 with great clarity, sharpness and complexity.

The film opened to much critical acclaim following its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. J. Hoberman of the Village Voice called I'm Going Home "a highly literary-or, at least, a highly intertextual-work" and went on to describe it as "restrained, precise, and unobtrusively wry. Luxuriating in 'empty' moments, Oliveira is more interested in habitual behavior than human misery...Piccoli is warmly affecting and so is this adroitly minimalist movie." Roger Ebert said, "There are few movies where you can palpably sense the presence of the director behind the camera, and I'm Going Home is one of them...Few films seem so wise and knowing about the fact of age and the approach of the end. And at his great age, de Oliveira dispenses with the silliness of plot mechanics and tells his story in a simple, unadorned fashion, as episodes and observations, trusting us to understand." The New York Times said, "Avoiding even a hint of morbidity or of sentimentality, I'm Going Home gives you the steady pulse of life in a beautiful city viewed through the eyes of a character who, in spite of tragic loss and increasing decrepitude, knows in his bones that he is one of the luckiest men alive."

I'm Going Home also features memorable cameos from Catherine Deneuve, who plays a stage actress working with Gilbert in a production of Exit the King, and John Malkovich as an American film director who expects more from Gilbert than he is able to give.

By Andrea Passafiume



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