There is no finer actor for this than Michel Piccoli. From a long and varied career, working with everyone from Renoir to Buñuel to Hitchcock, he has given a number of outstanding performances, recently as the blocked artist challenged by La Belle noiseuse
(Rivette, 1991); as the father of film itself in Varda’s charming Les Cent et une nuits de Simon Cinéma
(1995) — a DVD that belongs in every fan’s collection; and in de Oliveira’s Party
(1996), where he got along fabulously with Irene Papas. On the Je rentre à la maison
DVD commentary, Richard Peña, Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, makes an interesting connection between Piccoli’s character in the de Oliveira film with the screenwriter he played in Jean-Luc Godard’s Les Mepris/Contempt
(1963): Godard had him pursuing The Odyssey
, de Oliveira places him at journey’s end.
Malkovich and Catherine Deneuve (appearing in the Exit the King
segment), have lent their support to several of de Oliveira’s films, notably O Convento
(1995), a dark meditation of evil and a cool satire of the horror film. Leonor Silveira, so effective as the Bovary character in Vale Abraão/Abraham’s Valley
(1993) and as the mother in Um Filme Falado/A Talking Picture
(2003), is the director’s most frequently used player and shows up briefly in Je rentre à la maison
as an actress.
An effective visual gimmick in Viagem ao Princípio do Mundo
is the observation of life passing by through a camera mounted on the back of a moving car. As the present becomes their past, the characters regress into primitivism, questing for “home.” In Je rentre à la maison
, Michel Piccoli’s actor has found home, wisely choosing rest over performance, a primitive in a world rushing to nowhere.