In one of De Oliveira’s 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.
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Oliveira draws a comparison between Picolli's character and Ionesco's Exit the King, and portrays a man confronted to oldness and new responsibilities as he should take care of his grandson after his parents die.
It's a great study of character, and Picolli's performance is superb, probably one of the best of his career.
A delightfully warmhearted film. The story eschews any sensationalism which the main catalyst would normally create in a lesser film, with the drama kept firmly on the stage. Gentle humour and finely drawn musings with Piccoli disarmingly charming in lead.
There's pleasure in watching Piccoli amble through life - his quiet satisfaction at a new pair of shoes. Even the death of his family appears to be handled aimiably. Gilbert is immune to offstage drama and this is a film that prefers to watch an extra unfolding his copy of Le Figaro. John Malkovitch is an implausible villain, detracting from Gilbert's snap - an unexpected, quiet ending that doesn't quite ring true.
I see the symbolism, I like the locations but something makes me unconformable in this film, and not in the pleasant way. I think it ii the theatrical nature of the delivery but I am not completely convinced. In short, I was not pusehd away but never felt good about the film.
I didn't enjoy watching this but can tell it is a brilliant film. Another's review has described it as a mediation and that is a perfect description. There is beautiful cinematography and use of sound, the DOP is gifted. I didn't like it for probably all the reasons others love it - the pace and those long sections of the theatre plays, too much. Love watching Malkovich, watching Piccoli though.
I unfortunately didn't understand or "get" all the symbolism that is said to be present throughout this film but I cannot deny its silent power. This is slow , sometimes dull , sometimes intriguing storytelling.There are no tears , no laughs , just faint smiles and distant stares as our main character questions his life , morality within art and his own poignancy .