TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘I Was at Home, But…’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Film Festivals, Movies, Theatrical, TIFF 2019 by - September 13, 2019
TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘I Was at Home, But…’

Like Antonioni and several other filmmakers since, German director Angela Schanelec uses the narrative device of a disappearance to explore a whole host of existential quandaries and other related ennui among her characters. However, in the case of her enigmatically titled, I Was at Home, But…, the disappearance occurs before the movie even starts, as a 13-year old boy re-emerges right off the top, after having spent a week missing in the wild.

Once the boy in question, Phillip (Jakob Lassalle), returns to his younger sister and harried single mother, Astrid (Maren Eggert), the immediate relief is palpable. But just as things should supposedly be returning to normal, they seem to go in the opposite direction, with Astrid becoming increasingly frazzled and volatile towards her two children, while Phillip seems pretty non-plussed about the whole thing.

As an abstract filmmaker by nature, Schanelec is clearly creating a very deliberate intellectual experience here, so your investment in it depends on how deep you’re willing to plunge. This is the kind of a movie where everybody walks around in a catatonic state, punctuated every once in a while by an over-the-top screaming fit. An extended sequence mid-film where Astrid rants to a film director about the inherent artificiality of acting seems to sum the film’s goals up, as each subsequent scene seems to want to alienate us from the banality of conventional storytelling in order to get at larger truths.

It’s a cerebral doozy, to say the least.

  • Release Date: 9/11/2019
This post was written by
After his childhood dream of playing for the Mighty Ducks fell through, Mark turned his focus to the glitz and glamour of the movies. He's covered the extensive Toronto film scene for online outlets and is a filmmaker himself, currently putting the final touches on a low-budget (okay, no-budget) short film to be released in the near future. You can also find him behind the counter as product manager of Toronto's venerable film institution, Bay Street Video.
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