What emerges first watching I'm Coming Home is de Oliveira's extraordinary and serene cinematic style. The story is that of a successful and respected Parisian actor named Gilbert Valence (Michel Piccoli), a 76 year-old, who, in the film's opening scenes, loses his wife and daughter in an auto crash. We then take up with him a few months later as he goes about the day-to-day business of tending his orphaned grandson Serge and maintaining the routine he's reestablished in his life. When an American director (John Malkovich) casts Valence as the much, much younger Buck Mulligan in a film adaptation of James Joyce's Ulysses, the forced scrutiny of his age challenges Valence's emotional equilibrium and causes him to reevaluate his mortality and recent loss.
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When The Uncertainty Principle isn't relishing placing Camila within the bleakly lush settings of her prison, it takes the time to humorously discuss philosophical ideas with an energy that keeps character interaction enjoyable. It can never be fully surmised if Camila's passivity is an effort at provoking guilt out of those in her environment or if she is internalizing some imagined voice emanating from the cobwebbed statue she visits frequently, so her erratic impulses are continually amusing. Also well executed is the slowly mounting, subtly-played tension between her lifelong crush Jose (Ricardo Trêpa) and apathetic husband Antonio (Ivo Canelas) for the possible fate of the woman they share.
Continue reading: The Uncertainty Principle (2002) Review