I Was at Home, But (Ich War Zuhause, Aber)
Angela Schanelec returns to Berlinale with her lyrical film I Was At Home, But (Ich War Zuhause, Aber). The title operates ambiguously in the feature and serves to function as loosely as its narrative. There is not a conventional story guiding us. In the vein of the director’s entire body of work, we watch life pass with languidity. Little threads hang to the movie’s dramatic core, a family living on in the wake of the father’s death and the recent return of a missing son. It is simple but concise, naturalistic and truthful.
Scenes appear like thoughts and, as quickly as they do, flitter away. Though the plot trails to and fro, Schanelec lauds her confidence in her voice as an auteur. Lengthy static shots let life pass into frame rather than chasing the subtle drama with closer intrusions. The compositional framework is distant with the continual use of long shots keeping the viewer away, rendering us a voyeur.
It’s an essayistic film. Its collage-like quality renders the viewer an active participant in constructing a through-line and scrutinising the feature’s emotional core. There is also humour that makes its way into the picture. There are no punchlines but little comedies emerge in the interactions of everyday life. Maren Eggert as the mother, Astrid, spans the emotional spectrum of motherhood and existence: frustration, defensiveness and love. Schanelec’s use of music adds to the tenderness of her approach. An acoustic cover of David Bowie’s Let’s Dance plays on and on and Astrid lays at the grave of her deceased husband.
Between the seams, the filmmaker holds up the question of art and the role of the actor. They are tugged into the schematic structure through school children performing Hamlet in fragments and a lengthy conversation between Astrid and an old director friend. There is a simultaneity of looking in and out. Schanelec gives us a window through which to watch their world, while in it there is a questioning outwards to ours. Ultimately, the constant trickling in and out becomes tenuous and tiresome.
I Was at Home, But (Ich War Zuhause, Aber) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.
Watch clips from I Was at Home, But (Ich War Zuhause, Aber) here: