Thespian Gilbert Valance (Piccoli) recognises that his day is done when all his agent can offer him are TV cop shows and transatlantic heritage pictures. Yet, unable to face the prospect of simply being himself, he prepares for his most exacting role — rearing his grandson, recently orphaned when Michel's wife, daughter and son-in-law were killed in a car crash.
Portuguese maestro Manoel De Oliveira contemplates past deeds and future challenges in this comedy of reputations and resolutions.
Some may find the extracts from Ionesco's Exit The King, Shakespeare's The Tempest and Joyce's Ulysses a chore, but each comments precisely on Piccoli's painful evolution and allows De Oliveira to pronounce on the state of the performing arts. Abounding with sly jokes and world-weary wisdom, this is an urbane delight.
A warm, sly comedy from a virtuoso filmmaker on solid form.
Reviewed by David Parkinson