I Was at Home, But - I Was at Home, But(Blu Ray) [Second Run - 2021]
I Was at Home, But….is a German arthouse family drama that mixes poetic and poignant imagery, magic in mundaneness, sly humour, and the emotional yin 'n' yang of love and loss. It’s certainly not an easy or neatly laid out film, with its uneven narrative- that moves between brief snippets, long takes, and moments of more formal storytelling. But if you give yourself into the film, you’ll find it both charming, subtle moving, and thought-provoking picture. Here from Second Run is a new Blu Ray of the film featuring a high-definition print, a new interview with the director, early short films from the director, and an inlay booklet with new writing about the picture.
I Was at Home, But…. (Ich war zuhause, aber) appeared in 2019, and was directed/written by Angela Schanelec. It was the ninth feature-length film from the director, writer, and actress. It’s certainly fair to say it’s a film that needs both patience and perseverance- because this is very much prime Arthouse territory, yet there are moments of surprising humour, tenderness, and every day life’s trials & tribulation. So an interesting blend of the expected and unexpected.Roger Batty
The film opens in a rather surprising & clever manner which very much hints at the blend of the expected and unexpected- we see a wolf/ wild dog running through moorland, then we see a rabbit, more of the dog. Then we see the dog ripping something up in an abandoned building- initially, one is horrified thinking it’s the rabbit, then we move to a donkey walking into the room, the dog comes away from what it’s attacking & we see it’s a toy. Fairly soon the dog lies down next to the donkey, and we move into the film’s main focus/ story.
At the centre of the film is Astrid (Maren Eggert) a forty-something mother of two children- Philp (Jakob Lassalle), a troubled 13-year-old, who disappears then reappears. And an around seven-year-old tom-boy daughter Flo(Clara Möller). The film is built around a blend of short and darting moments from the family’s story, prolonged & at points fixed shots of mundaneness, and more formal narrative moments, which often reveal in the films more slyly playful/ humorous moments.
Maren is very believable as Astrid- coming off naturistic in her role as a single mother who tries to balance life, love with her new tennis coach boyfriend, and looking after her two children. The small surrounding cast is also very naturistic & believable too. Schanelec's directing and shot choice is wonderfully realised, as she shifts between rapid cuts, longer more elegant set shots, and well-arranged drama/ dialogue shots. All in all, I Was at Home, But.. is a surprisingly spellbinding film, which cleverly plays with narrative, scene pace, artiness and emotion.
Moving onto this new region free Blu Ray, and the high-definition print looks wonderfully crisp & clear. On the extras front, we get a half-an-hour on screen with director/writer Schanelec- this is a very chatty and down to earth interview. she comes across as very grounded and unpretentious, and at one point she says she the same as the audience. The interview is purely focused on I Was at Home, But…., and she discusses how the film first came together, her use of imagery, working with actors & non-actors, and the very minimal placement of music in the film- all in all a well worth a play interview. Next, we get a selection of three short films from the 90’s by Schanelec, and these run between four and fourteen minutes. The set is topped off with a glossy inlay booklet, this a new six-page write-up about the picture from critic and journalist Carman Grey, films stills, and full credits.
In finishing I’d say you’ve got to have some grounding/love for Arthouse cinema to enjoy/ get something from I Was at Home, But….. Personally, I found it a most captivating watch, that equally managed to be both arty and emotionally grounded. And as always Second Run give the film a nice, classy presentation, to buy the film direct head here.