In another director’s hands this might all have been a bit of a slog but there is a quiet humor and lightness of touch to Schanelec’s direction and a self-effacing irony to Aistrid’s rambling that saves it from pure maudlinism.
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Angela Schanalec’s film configures itself most potently in hindsight as a punch to the gut.
This is a film that stages itself in non-linear narratives, in severe, clinical long takes, in metaphorical observations, and even extended sequences of Shakespearean re-enactment–a film whose aesthetics may be intensely controlled and yet whose narrative is sprawling with meanings and readings.
I Was at Home, But… works as a mood piece in the truest sense of the term: once you stop trying to logically assemble the narrative and submit instead to its clashing, enveloping currents of feeling, they form a persuasive story of their own.
The filmmakers that Schanelec draws on for inspiration are all masters of one kind of economy or another. The problem is that Schanelec herself is not. Despite its austere, theory-heavy minimalism, I Was At Home, But… is lopsided and lumpy, filled with longueurs in which the brain begins to check out.
In I Was at Home, but…, the German director Angela Schanelec seems to have taken her ideas and stashed them deep in a private vault. Every so often, though, she cracks open this movie — with a line, an image, a snatch of a song — offering you fugitive glimpses of an intensely personal world.
It's an uncompromising, sophisticated, multi-layered work of art which demands to be met at least halfway.
The movie is not without interest, but I found it mannered, derivative and opaque.
The emotional repression and intellectual stiffness that suffuse Angela Schanelec’s melancholy new drama are as much a matter of style as of substance.
What’s both intriguing and enraging about the film is the fact that it so defiantly rejects the language of cinematic storytelling; this is a film which is intended to upend audience expectations.