Review by Scott Tobias:
A giant pet stork, with scanning eyes that quietly observe the human folly surrounding it, lends sanity and stability to Otar Ioseliani’s cracked comic roundelay Farewell, Home Sweet Home, perhaps because it’s the only character comfortable with its lot in life. The others, mainly members of a wealthy Parisian family, are leading absurd double lives in secret, illustrating the cliché, “the grass is greener on the other side.” With exceptionally fluid camerawork and a gently mocking touch, Ioseliani’s virtually plotless slice-of-life borrows elements from several great directors at once, combining the class-conscious irony of Luis Buñuel and the near-silent comedy of Jacques Tati with the daisy-chain elegance of Max Ophüls’ The Earrings Of Madame De… It takes time to get oriented to the peculiar rhythms of Ioseliani’s world, which establishes characters through behavior rather than dialogue, and takes only a slightly skewed perspective on the repetition and tedium of everyday life. There are no punchlines, no dramatic outbursts, and no traditional three-act structure, just an association of events that poke fun at the fickleness of human nature. Centering on the inhabitants of a suburban château, the characters attempt to escape their own lives by taking on separate identities. A well-to-do 19-year-old (Nico Tarielashvili) moonlights as a lowly dishwasher at a Paris bistro and hangs out with scruffy beggars; his mother (Lily Lavina), a businesswoman who flies to and from work in a helicopter, fancies herself a singer; and her father (Ioseliani) plays with a child’s train set while drinking himself into a stupor. Meanwhile, a penniless sailor (Philippe Bas) dresses up in a suit and picks up women in a rented Harley Davidson, including a pretty barmaid (Stephanie Hainque) who rebuffs Tarielashvili’s advances. There are at least another dozen other minor players, connected by the gliding camera movements that seamlessly link one comic vignette to the next. With its assured, breezily unassuming design, mapped out with architectural precision, Farewell, Home Sweet Home may sound like the work of an egghead formalist. But Ioseliani’s warm, open-ended style, combined with his remarkably adroit use of non-actors, impresses with the unpracticed spontaneity of real life.