What You Need To Know:
I’M GOING HOME is a very slow but highly involving movie about an actor in his waning years, with a redemptive worldview. The acting in I’M GOING HOME is restrained, measured and joyous. The script is spare and pointed. The direction is insightful. However, this is not the type of movie that will capture audiences. The audience has to stick with it, but if they do, they will be rewarded.
(CC, BB, L, V, A, D, M) Redemptive worldview with references to God and moral restraint; five minor obscenities and several positive appeals to God; man holds up old man on the street with a hypodermic needle; wine; smoking; and, theft and agent suggests that an older actor have an affair, but he is rebuked.
The Cannes Film Festival included many moral movies in its competition. Often, these movies were unique for their style, not for pushing the envelope as in the politically correct era of recent years.
I’M GOING HOME is a very slow but highly involving movie about an actor in his waning years. The pace of the movie reflects his state of mind, so each shot is studied and lingers over minute details. Once the audience at the Cannes Film Festival acclimatized to the pace of the movie, they found that it was very droll and spontaneous. Hearty laughter broke out throughout the later part of the movie.
Michel Piccoli plays with joyous aplomb Gilbert Valence, an elderly theatre actor. His talent and lengthy career have secured him the greatest of roles.
The movie opens with some of his performance in EXIT THE KING by Eugène Ionesco, in which he plays Berenger the 1st. Waiting backstage for him after the show are three men. One, his agent and old friend, Georges, informs him that his wife, daughter and son-in-law have been killed in a road accident.
Thereafter, Gilbert divides his time between his grandson, Serge (on whom he dotes), and the theatre. His next role is Prospero, the main character in Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST.
As he heals, he resumes his old habits: a daily coffee and newspaper in the bar, rehearsals and the performances. However, everything is slow and considered.
His agent proposes that he find a new wife, perhaps the young actress who admires him. Gilbert refutes this thought as wicked and beneath his dignity. As always, Gilbert insists on the moral high ground.
Next, his agent proposes that he take an action role in a television series. He is mortified, for he has dedicated his life to his art.
The dialogue in this scene is priceless:
“But you know I’ve no time for such stories. I’ve never done that stuff and I’ll not start now. I have a career . . . a certain notion, or ethic of my profession. After so many years of genuine work, I’ll not now accept things I don’t like, just because they’re well paid. We’ve clashed before on this. As my friend, you know that. So why still insist?”
“With you, it’s always the same story. Why not? It’s a money spinner. The key to wider renown. It’ll open new doors for us, which you never will if you blinker yourself.”
“Always the same old song.”
“You’re acting like a fool.”
“I act as I am.”
“Wait, let’s talk . . .
“No, I’m going. Call me when you’ve something I’ll like.”
“He’s just incorrigible.”
This is a very keen portrait of a dignified person reaching the end of the road in life. Many of us have watched this happen. My father loved acting in Broadway theater and had starring and featured roles in the best plays all his life. He was a lot like Gilbert – a man of honor and art.
In the end, Gildert gives several references to the Lord God. He thanks God. He invokes, “The blessings of God be upon you.” Then, he notes dryly, “I’m going home.”
The acting in I’M GOING HOME is restrained and measured. The script is spare and pointed. The direction is insightful. However, this is not the type of movie that will capture audiences. The audience has to stay with it. If they watch, they may see some of their life, or the life that they hoped to lead. If they do, like the audience at Cannes, they will vigorously applaud.
Eventually, Gilbert takes a part in a Hollywood production of James Joyce’s ULYSSES. Clearly, he is adrift in his aging. Gracefully, he bows out.