One of France's greatest screen stars, Michel Piccoli, plays Gilbert Valence, a grand old theatre actor, who is given the shocking news that his wife, daughter and son-in-law have been tragically killed in a car accident. Some time later, and over the worst of his grief, Valence busies himself with his daily life in Paris, turning down unsuitable roles in low brow television productions and caring for his nine-year old grandson. But when an American filmmaker (John Malkovich) absurdly miscasts him in an unlikely adaptation of Joyce's 'Ulysses', Valence finds himself suddenly compelled to make a decision about his life. Piccoli's performaance is the warm and engaging heart of veteran director Manoel de Oliveir's dryly witty and touching observations on art and ageing.
The acting is not poor, John Malkovich is good, but this film has little plot, little interest and no point. Some of the scenes are amazingly boring. A scene in a cafe in which the elderly actor is talking to his agent uses a long close up of his newly acquired shoes. By long I am guessing a minute. Him buying the shoes is one of the high points of the film. They are nice mid-tan brogues. Watch the film if you like brogues, otherwise don't.