Angela Schanelec (I Was at Home, But…I) deconstructs the myth of Oedipus and rearranges it into a song all on her own in her 2023 Berlinale Silver Bear (Best Screenplay) winner.
Fittingly, this contemporary rendering of the familiar tragedy starts in the mountains of Greece, where a baby boy is rescued by a local paramedic who together with his wife, adopts him and names him Jon. The couple raise him as their own, until an incident at age 20 again changes the course of Jon’s life. Jon is incarcerated after committing manslaughter in response to a perceived attack by a stranger. In prison, he finds himself inextricably drawn to prison officer Iro, who shows him great affection and with whom he shares many moments of tenderness. In true Schanelec fashion, the story is told elliptically, in an austere but sensuous manner that recalls the work of French master Robert Bresson, and the film’s beauty lies in the unspoken passages, where subtext becomes elegantly and unexpectedly illuminated.