I'm Going Home is an excellent, meditative drama about dealing with the loss of loved ones in old age. Directed by the amazingly diligent 93-year-old Portugeuse director Manoel de Oliveira the film starts with the last few minutes of an Eugene Ionesco play titled 'Exit the King'. The scene is a long monologue given by the king about his imminent death.
The actor playing the king – who's name is Gilbert (Michel Piccoli) - gets a rousing standing ovation when the play is over. But when he exits to the backstage area he is met by three men who tell him the tragic news that his wife, his daughter and his son-in-law have all died in a traffic accident.
The rest of the film is about the way that Gilbert – who must now take care of his young grandson – deals with his own life after the tragedy.
The film's style is what sets it apart. It moves at a deliberate pace and keeps a cerebral distance from dramatics. There are many scenes where the camera fixes on objects – such as statues (a de Oliviera trademark image) and one scene of dialogue consists almost entirely on a shot of Gilbert's new pair of shoes. This is de Oliviera's way of relating peoples lives to the comfort of materialistic objects.
Gilbert is a working actor and he finds solace in his roles. But he is also trying to kick start his career with the help of an agent who attempts to get him television or movie roles. The problem is that none of the roles appeal to Gilbert because they are all so phony; so he turns them down. Eventually he is given a role in a small budget adaptation of Ulysses, which he accepts.
There is a definite humor to the final scenes because the director of Ulysses is played by a very stern looking John Malkevich. The two try to work through a tough scene but Gilbert grows increasingly frustrated because he has to speak his lines in English, not his native language.
The title of the film is obvious when related to the film's final scene. Gilbert is getting older, life is not getting easier, his acting is not giving him solace and he has no where to turn – except homeward. Far from being depressing, however, the film has a since of optimism in the end.
The audio is in French Dolby Digital 2.0 with optional English subtitles. This is a film that doesn't need surround sound since it has many quite sections and music is used sparingly. The French dialogue comes across just fine.
The DVD is presented in a 1.66:1 anamorphic transfer and looks very good. The image is clear and sharp. The colors are somewhat muted and many scenes seem to have little lighting. There is a natural lighting feel to many scenes – except those on stage.
The only extras besides a scene selection menu are trailers for other films from Seville.
This fine film by 93 year-old director Manuel de Oliviera is about an actor who is suddenly confronted with real life tragedy. The film moves at a steady but involving pace and if you stick with it to the end it is rewarding. The DVD looks very good but there are no extras.