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Farewell, Home Sweet Home
Farewell, Home Sweet Home directed by Otar Iosseliani is a stylistically unique French comedy about a series of interconnected stories in and around Paris.
The film has a loose plot that features a series of characters such as a rich young man who would rather hang around with street ruffians, a young attractive woman who works with her father in a small pub, a snobbish woman who walks around with a stork on her back, a sweet scheming maid, a bunch of crooked businessmen and a lot of plain working class folks that often cross paths, ironically, throughout the film.
The one character who can be considered the film's main character is the teen aged boy (Nico Tarielashvili) who roller blades around Paris between his job as a dishwasher in a restaurant and his street friends who hang out finding ways to get money. He also lusts after the young woman who works across the street from the restaurant. His father - played by the director - is also somewhat central because he represents the same spirit as his son in that he is tired of the wealth; Late in the film he makes friends with a homeless guy.
In this way the film has some similarities with Jean Renoir's Boudou Saved From Drowning, which deals with a tramp and the rich people he befriends. This film, much like Renoir films - has a light comedic touch that looks at life in a positive and humanitarian light. But too it takes a stab at the rich and their petty corrupt ways.
Formalistically the film is both impressive and lacking. On one hand Iosseliani has noteworthy tracking shots that set the stage and connect the various characters and stories. He also uses this technique to set up a lot of sight gags much like JacquesTati. However, much like all of his other films the action is set at a comfortable distance from the camera and there is little dialogue, which makes for challenging home viewing. That is not to say his films are difficult or complex [or bad], just that they are not easy to focus on because as a director he does not lead the audience's attention like most directors do. For this reason, his films work better on the big screen where the audience can be engaged and look around the screen more. On the small screen everything's really seems disengaged - almost like a documentary without a central theme or character.
Farewell, Home Sweet Home is an odd translation of the actual French title, which is Adieu, plancher des vaches an old sailor quote translated literally as 'Goodbye, to the Cow Floor'. It's a good film although not as good as another recently released film of his titled Monday Morning, which is stylistically similar but more focused on one character.
The DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1. The image quality is good. There is a soft filmic focus quality that makes everything look a little more life like than a Hollywood film. The tranfer is good.
Audio is in French stereo but not utilized much. Most of the film has no dialogue and only a minimal score.
There is a director interview that lasts fifteen minutes and is interesting. In it Iosseliani talks about his cinematic preferences and it becomes clear they he really doesn't like most current forms of cinema. He talks about what he tries to do with his films and specifically what he tries to avoid - he hates close-ups for instance. In some ways watching this interview before the start of the film might prepare one for the film a little better. Other extras include a trailer and a short director bio.
Farewell, Home Sweet Home is a good French comedy / drama that gets better the more you watch it. At first it is not too engaging or particularly funny but when one figures out the director's style and what he is trying to say it gets better, it gets funnier and just a little profound.