I Was at Home, But… (Angela Schanelec, 2019)


The German director Angela Schanelec has had, with the exception of Ryusuke Hamaguchi, the most circuitous path to arthouse prominence of any director in the past decade. As part of the loose collective known as the Berlin School, which has produced some of the most interesting and skilled directors working today (Maren Ade, Christian Petzold, Ulrich Köhler), Schanelec has struck her own path, pursuing a more elliptical and rigorous approach to narrative and filmmaking than her peers. Correspondingly, she has had a low profile for a director of her stature, making six features before her breakout in 2016 with The Dreamed Path, perhaps her most narratively complex and productively opaque work yet.

Her follow-up, I Was at Home, But… takes a more “conventional” and discernible approach, but in doing so accesses both the emotional and the inexplicable, taking detours and narrative strands while burrowing deep into its central character. That person is Astrid, a single mother, played by regular Schanelec actor Maren Eggert, living in Berlin; the film begins just after her teenage son has returned from running away for undisclosed reasons. In essence, the film deals more or less solely with her, her son’s, and her young daughter’s daily lives after this brief rupture, and yet all attempts at simplification are nigh pointless. For one, there are significant corollary threads: a teacher (the ascendant Franz Rogowski) at the son’s school embarking on a tentative romance with one of his colleagues; Astrid’s relationship with her lover; the ongoing, particularly uninflected rehearsal of a translation of Hamlet. Overshadowing all of this is the death of Astrid’s partner some years before, a crucial piece of narrative information that, like most else in the film, is only parceled out slowly, communicated strongest in the loveliest detour: a brief montage of dance and nature scored to an acoustic cover of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.”


One of the most peculiar and gratifying qualities of Schanelec’s film is her ability to draw these disparate moments into an ever-shifting whole, capturing the unsettled but quietly fortified existence of these characters. It’s difficult, for instance, to exactly settle on the tone of many scenes: the petulance of Astrid as she tries to hash out the status of the bike she bought from a man who speaks via a tinny electro-larynx is both maddening and truthful, just as the acting of the schoolchildren is both stilted and affecting. This applies in the interweaving of scenes as well: there are as many “random” moments introduced and dropped as there are narrative throughlines, and the viewer is left to determine the relative import of each for themselves in the course of the film, extending to the bookends, which feature a donkey, a dog, and a rabbit in the forest.

Of course, none of these are ultimately random or tossed-off; I Was at Home, But… is too intelligent for deliberate sabotage, something evident in the visual scheme, which typically foregoes the Bressonian close-ups of The Dreamed Path for long shots and long takes, the better to capture the full range of motion that the actors possess. This is captured in the film’s signal scene, a ten-minute tracking shot that follows Astrid and a filmmaker friend of hers (played by filmmaker Dane Komljen) as she lambasts his film for featuring an actor and a real sick person alongside each other. Where Schanelec ultimately falls on this spectrum is unresolved, but one of the lines that the filmmaker feels pertinent: “When you’re working on a film with other people, then it does become important how the work affects those people. What it means to them.” Affect and meaning go hand in hand, mysterious processes that nevertheless carry a personal truth that, in the right hands, can be overwhelming.

Friday March 6 – Thursday March 12

Featured Film:

Slumber Party Massacre at the Beacon Cinema

I’m not someone who grew up on horror movies; I’m an 80s kid who basically missed the entire slasher film era when it was happening. So for the last couple of Halloweens I’ve been trying to catch up with the classics I didn’t see when I was young. This past year my favorite was Amy Holden Jones’s Slumber Party Massacre, at once a exceptionally well-made suspense thriller and engrossing hang out film, a pointed feminist critique of and tribute to the slasher genre. The Beacon is playing it this Friday night as part of their excellent Haunted Light horror film series. And next week they’ve got another of the ones I watched last Halloween, Sleepaway Camp, a bold, and arguably quite offensive, film that’s surely one of the strangest and most unsettling movies of the 1980s.

Playing This Week:

AMC Alderwood:

Seberg (Benedict Andrews) Fri-Thurs 
Baaghi 3 (Ahmed Khan) Fri-Thurs 

The Beacon Cinema:

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Jaromir Jireš, 1970) Fri-Sun 
Slumber Party Massacre (Amy Holden Jones, 1982) Fri Only 
Aparajito (Satyajit Ray, 1956) Sat, Mon, & Tues 
Brewster McCloud (Robert Altman, 1970) Sat & Sun Only 
Shaolin Temple (Chang Cheh, 1976) Sat Only Our Review
Leda – The Fantastic Adventures of Yohko (Yuyama Kunihiko, 1985) Sun Only 
Prison on Fire (Ringo Lam, 1987) Mon & Weds Only Our Review 
Riki-Oh: The Story of Riki (Lam Nai-choi, 1991) Tues & Thurs Only 
The World of Apu (Satyajit Ray, 1959) Weds & Thurs Only 

Central Cinema:

The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939) Fri-Weds 
Wild at Heart (David Lynch, 1990) Fri-Weds 
Contagion (Steven Soderbergh, 2011) Thurs Only 

Century Federal Way:

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Kenji Nagasaki) Fri-Thurs Dubbed or Subtitled, Check Listings
You Beautify My Life (Yan Qingxu & Yu De’an) Fri-Thurs 
Ik Sandhu Hunda Si (Rakesh Mehta) Fri-Thurs 

Grand Cinema:

Wendy (Benh Zeitlin) Fri-Thurs 
Cat Video Fest 2020 Fri-Thurs 
63 Up (Michael Apted) Tues Only 

Grand Illusion Cinema:

Come and See (Elem Klimov, 1985) Fri-Sun, Tues & Thurs 
Run this Town (Ricky Tollman) Fri-Sun, Mon & Weds 
Saturday Secret Matinees Sat Only 
Same God (Linda Midgett) Sun Only 

Cinemark Lincoln Square:

Burden (Andrew Heckler) Fri-Thurs 
Baaghi 3 (Ahmed Khan) Fri-Thurs 
My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Kenji Nagasaki) Fri-Thurs Dubbed or Subtitled, Check Listings
Wendy (Benh Zeitlin) Fri-Thurs 
Gypsy (Raju Murugan) Fri-Thurs 
HIT (Sailesh Kolanu) Fri-Thurs 
Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal (Desingh Periyasamy) Fri-Thurs 
Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (Hitesh Kewalya) Fri-Thurs 
Thappad (Anubhav Sinha) Fri-Thurs 
Mayabazar 2016 (Radhakrishna Reddy) Fri-Thurs 
Trance (Anwar Rasheed) Fri-Sun 
Forensic (Anas Khan & Akhil Paul) Sat & Sun Only 

Regal Meridian:

Baaghi 3 (Ahmed Khan) Fri-Thurs 
Mayabazar 2016 (Radhakrishna Reddy) Fri-Thurs 
My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Kenji Nagasaki) Fri-Thurs Dubbed or Subtitled, Check Listings
Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band (Daniel Roher) Fri-Thurs 
Ordinary Love (Lisa Barros D’Sa) Fri-Thurs 
Tokyo Godfathers (Kon Satoshi, 2003) Mon & Weds Only Subtitled Monday

Northwest Film Forum:

Children’s Film Festival 2020 Fri-Sun  Full Program
Flamenco Syndrome (Bijoyini Chatterjee) Sun Only 
The Hidden People of the Shadowy Rocks (Róska & Manrico Povolettino, 1982) Sun Only 
I Was at Home, But. . . (Angela Schanelec) Weds, Thurs & Next Sat & Sun Only Our Review 
The Howling (Joe Dante, 1981) Thurs Only 

AMC Oak Tree:

Wendy (Benh Zeitlin) Fri-Thurs 

AMC Pacific Place:

Burden (Andrew Heckler) Fri-Thurs 
Baaghi 3 (Ahmed Khan) Fri-Thurs 

Regal Parkway Plaza:

Baaghi 3 (Ahmed Khan) Fri-Thurs 

Seattle Art Museum:

A Tale of Summer (Eric Rohmer, 1996) Thurs Only 

AMC Seattle:

Seberg (Benedict Andrews) Fri-Thurs 
Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band (Daniel Roher) Fri-Thurs 

SIFF Film Center:

Premature (Rashaad Ernesto Green) Fri-Sun 

AMC Southcenter:

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Kenji Nagasaki) Fri-Thurs 
Beneath Us (Max Pachman) Fri-Thurs 
Las Pildoras de Mi Novio (Diego Kaplan) Fri-Thurs In Spanish with No Subtitles

Regal Thornton Place:

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Kenji Nagasaki) Fri-Thurs Dubbed or Subtitled, Check Listings
Seberg (Benedict Andrews) Fri-Thurs 
Tokyo Godfathers (Kon Satoshi, 2003) Mon & Weds Only Subtitled Monday

SIFF Uptown:

Wendy (Benh Zeitlin) Fri-Thurs 
The Traitor (Marco Bellocchio) Fri-Thurs 

Varsity Theatre:

Weathering with You (Shinkai Makoto) Fri-Thurs Subtitled or Dubbed, Check Listings
Becoming (Omar Naim) Fri-Thurs 
Final Kill (Justin Lee) Fri-Thurs 

In Wide Release:

The Rise of Skywalker (JJ Abrams) Our Review 
Little Women (Greta Gerwig) Our Review
Parasite (Bong Joonho) Our Review Our Podcast