NYFF39: Manoel de Oliveira’s “I’m Going Home”

Posted by Anna Husted on 8.21.2012

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act 4 Scene 1

Film Society Program Director Richard Peña described award-winning Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira’s seventh (of 11) New York Film Festival film, I’m Going Home (Je rentre à la maison, NYFF '01), as "magnificent," where just watching 74-year-old Gilbert Valence "shop for shoes brought tears to my eyes."

As he goes about such mundane activities, often hidden in the shadows, Valence (Michel Piccoli) confronts us with the bitter hardship of the loss of a loved one: the struggle to continue living day-to-day. I’m Going Home is more than a film about a man who has lost his wife, daughter and son-in-law in a car accident; it's about the complexity of solitude and the catharsis of the theater.

Despite its reputation as a cinephile's delight, I'm Going Home is accessible for anyone—in part because of John Malkovich's turn as a crafty Hollywood director and the always-wonderful Catherine Denevue as the actress Marguerite—but also because of its universal themes of the never-ending wrestle with pain and death, and the role of art as a vehicle for that loss. And who better to convey that loss to the masses than Oliveira who, at the age of 92 (he's now 103 and still going strong), had had ample time to consider the balance between fear and life and craft a rich portrait of an old man’s world. Through cinematic poetics, the extremes of lighting, and the kind of wisdom that can only come with age, Oliveira delivers poignancy in something as simple and natural as drinking wine.

With ardency, Variety’s Deborah Young contributes to the ongoing love and appreciation for Oliveira’s "intellectual jigsaw puzzle" that is a "thoroughly tasty morsel to the refined palates of cinephiles," admiring cinematographer Sabine Lancelin’s Paris as "a vast theater… gaudy, modern and banal by day, mysterious, empty and dangerous by night."

Few artists successfully remain at the peak of their medium for more than a few years, or decades if they’re lucky, but Oliveira's 80 years working in cinema prove he still has stories to tell and summits to conquer—continuing to survey life with wit, grace and humor.

Just announced as part of the 50th NYFF's new "Cinema Reflected" section is Luis Miñaro's short film 101, a portrait of Manoel de Oliveira during the shooting of The Strange Case of Angelica (NYFF '10). It will screen before The War of the Volcanoes.

Combine tonight's screening of I'm Going Home with a meal at Indie Food and Wine in our Film Center with our unbeatable Dinner and a Movie deal for just $25! And make sure to check out the rest of the 50 Years of the New York Film Festival lineup, including next Tuesday's screening of Pedro Almodóvar's Talk to Her (NYFF '02), films by Lars von TrierJia Zhang-ke and more!

Below is a list of films that played alongside I'm Going Home at the 39th NYFF:
Who Knows? (Va savoir)
Jacques Rivette, France, 2001

Mulholland Drive
David Lynch, France/USA, 2001

In Praise of Love (Éloge de l’amour)
Jean-Luc Godard, Switzerland/France, 2001

All About Lily Chou-Chou
Shunji Iwai, Japan, 2001

Baran
Majid Majidi, Iran, 2001

La ciénaga
Lucrecia Martel, Argentina/Spain, 2001

Deep Breath (Le souffle)
Damien Odoul, France, 2001

Fat Girl (À ma soeuri)
Catherine Breillat, France/Italy, 2001

Intimacy
Patrice Chéreau, France, 2001

Italian for Beginners
Lone Scherfig, Denmark, 2001

The Lady and the Duke
Eric Rohmer, France, 2001

The Night of the Hunter
Charles Laughton, USA, 1955

The Royal Tenenbaums
Wes Anderson, USA, 2001

Silence…We’re Rolling
Youssef Chahine, Egypt/France, 2001

Sobibor
Claude Lanzmann, France, 2001

The Son’s Room
Nanni Moretti, Italy, 2001

Storytelling
Todd Solondz, USA, 2001

Time Out (L’emploi du temps)
Laurent Cantet, France, 2001

Waking Life
Richard Linklater, USA, 2001

Warm Water Under a Red Bridge
Shohei Imamura, Japan, 2001

What Time Is It There?
Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan/France, 200l

Y tu mamá también
Alfonso Cuarón, Mexico, 2001

Blue Wild Angel: Jimi Hendrix Live at the Isle of Wight
Murray Lerner, USA, 2001

My Voyage to Italy (Il mio viaggio in Italia)
Martin Scorsese, USA, 2001

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