Autumn is a Portguese Coming of Age movie about a kid choosing to only come home from college during breaks. Seeing as how he’s going to school in London, it shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. But, the audience gets invited into the home of these Portguese family that can’t seem to handle being apart from each other. The mom hates the empty nest, the daughter becomes a woman and the dad is just the dad.
At points, it reminds me of the kind of film that people who aped Loach and Bergman would put forth. But, there is something far more human at play here. Cinematic endeavors into the emotional rarely keep their toes out of the waters of melodrama.
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A film based on those family updates of events you missed.
If you ever went away for college or any sort of schooling or military service, the elements of Autumn will be familiar. Distant pick-ups at transportation spots and being on the outside of inside jokes lead the list. But, you also feel different. It’s rare to see a film nail down that sense of being out-of-place in the familiar.
How do you keep an audience focused on familial observations for nearly two hours? The easy answer is by watching the acting. However, Autumn asks for something more. It wants you to understand the very human construction of this story and to take part.
Autumn is very much about the fear of aging
There’s a scene towards the middle of Autumn where we see the mom and dad talking about their future on a beach. As the dad goes more fantastic and delirious with visions of the future, we watch the mother carry her aging child throughout the trek until she can’t do it anymore. The aging son transitions were a bit on the nose, but it got the point home.
Fear of aging is nothing new in the cinema. But, given the emotional nature of Autumn…you get sucked into what’s happening. The mom is mad about everyone leaving her and the dad growing more immature. She doesn’t get the luxury of a mid-life crisis, there is work to be done. All the while, the kids just want to grow up.
What is anger without emotion?
The fear of growing old often leads to anger. Yeah, there is a reason why so many people of a certain age seem to hate the world. They live in fear while favoring a time long remembered but very rarely ever accurate. In Autumn, the mom comes to realize the fallacy of this facade awful fast. But, she also has to keep her brave face for the family.
Anger is a tricky thing. Hell, Johnny Rotten wisely said that anger is an energy. But, all energy has to have a purpose to best be put to use. So much of Autumn is watching a family experience big emotions without the structure to properly place that energy. They know things have gone bad, but don’t know if it’s really bad or just bad for them.
Some final thoughts
Autumn just had its world premiere at the 2023 Austin Film Festival. I’m not 100% if it has American distribution yet, but I would be shocked if I don’t hear about that happening soon. It might be too mature for the theater circuit, but it could have quite the life on streaming.
I’m sure people will still stream complex looks at the emotional well-being of families watching their kids grow up and themselves grow old. But, we live in a land where Scorsese gets chastised for not having a favorite Avenger. The world is a funny place.