Join SoundtrackStream to find out the article “I Was at Home, But review – breakdown on the verge of coherence | Film”
The title of this frozen, torpid work from German director Angela Schanelec seems to gesture at Ozu’s I Was Born, But… yet the movie itself borrows mannerisms from early Haneke. It is a sequence of scenes, alienated, disconnected, shot and sound-recorded from a cool middle distance, showing Astrid (Maren Eggert), an angry, depressed woman in early middle age, widowed with two young children.
Her older child, a boy, appears to have got into trouble by running away from school, evidently disturbed in some way by performing in an English-class production of Hamlet. The teachers themselves are exhausted by the incident, unsure how to react – how or whether to punish him. The woman herself arrives at the school unannounced one day, shows up in the staff room and delivers a peroration on the subject of how they should not presume to judge.
Elsewhere, we witness unhappy and tense moments from her life. She buys a bike from a man via a classified ad, but the bike is faulty and after a bad-tempered complaint he agrees to refund her money online, directly into her bank account. It is a measure of the film’s exasperating unwillingness to make total sense that this man later telephones, saying that he has her money – wait, wasn’t he supposed to be just transferring it?
The action itself is bookended by some genuinely mysterious moments without formal narrative connection to the rest of the film: scenes of animals. A dog chases a rabbit. A donkey comically arrives in what appears to be a remote rural cabin and then looks thoughtfully out of the window. I’m not sure if it was supposed to be funny, but it was – and not in a bad way.
There are other moments of interest. Astrid shows genuine intellectual passion and engagement in a heated conversation with an academic and film-maker, criticising his use of actors playing scenes opposite people with genuine terminal illness, calling the juxtaposition of the real and imaginary jarring and dishonest. The director himself responds with mild calm, perhaps intuiting that at least some of her anger comes from personal issues.
Other moments are less striking, particularly the one showing that Astrid is apparently having a relationship with her kid’s tennis instructor. The movie is not without interest, but I found it mannered, derivative and opaque.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: I Was at Home, But review – breakdown on the verge of coherence | Film