A true living legend at age 103, Portugal’s indefatigable cinematic master Manoel de Oliveira made the seventh of his 11 NYFF appearances with one of his crowning achievements. In one of his crowning achievements, the great Michel Piccoli stars as Gilbert Valence, a celebrated actor who loses his daughter and son-in-law in a car crash, and gradually puts the pieces of his life back together. To be specific, we watch as Valence more or less returns to his daily routine of morning coffee at a sidewalk cafe, afternoon shopping expeditions, and the continual search for the next great part, including his casting as Buck Mulligan in a Franco-American co-production of Ulysses directed by John Malkovich! Precisely because Oliveira doesn’t dwell on Valence’s grief, every scene in the film seems somehow shaded by melancholy and the human impulse to carry on–a theme that resonated with uncanny power during the film’s NYFF premiere, mere weeks after the 9/11 attacks.
“I'm Going Home is by far the most approachable of the director's recent films, with an emotional depth that's true to life and a streamlined narrative that for long stretches barely contains a word. If it seems like a minor miracle that its septuagenarian star is young enough to be the nonagenarian filmmaker's son, more incredible still are the clear-eyed boldness and quiet irony with which actor and director take on life's urgent questions.” —Manohla Dargis, Los Angeles Times