Saw this 3rd on a dvd after La Chambre & Hotel Monterey, and in some ways it’s a cross between them: The autobiographical tempered by/juxtaposed against the impersonal/mechanical, and - as importantly - vice versa. Speech vs soundscape; insight vs image... And a deliciously iconic & culturally definitive depiction of 70s NYC (that subway platform 40 min in!) captured via Akerman's unique outsider inside perspective.
Akerman captivates with simple images of city life juxtaposed with letters from her mother. Sometime the narration is drowned out by the sounds of the city, like losing connection to her mother with her life as an artist, a theme she would explore through her entire career.
Sometimes I'm an asshole and I don't call my Mum enough and sometimes I screen her calls when I'm watching a movie or having a drink with friends. Then sometimes I get annoyed when I need to go to the country to see them, because I like the anonymity of the city and hate feeling tethered to the identity they attach to me. They worry and care about me, which should be enough for me to make an effort to please them.
Como sucedía en "Yo, tú, él, ella", Akerman apela a una narrativa epistolar. Es su madre enviando noticias desde casa. La información de familiares enfermos, compromisos que se forman y se rompen, la bonanza o crisis del negocio familiar, una niña que crece. Es también la madre que menciona las vivencias de la directora en NY. Un filme en donde el tiempo transcurre y la lectura de cartas construye una historia.
Akerman's continued experiments with sight, sound and time provide a tense yet tender frame to her autobiographical narrative of the contradiction that characterizes life in a diaspora - an alienation from, and longing for, both native and adoptive homes. Left me speechless.
Mildly interesting setup for a 30-40 minute student film - increasingly forlorn letters from Akerman's mother in Belgium read over images of desolate lonely mid-seventies NYC, where the director has moved - flogged out to a soporific 90 minutes. I'm a bright hopeful lad, so I at times watch this sort of thing to the end, expecting a second idea to swerve the monotony onto some new path. But Akerman's a one-idea gal.
Lovely to look at, interesting to ponder and find those links one assumes Chantal Akerman was intending for us to appreciate as expansions of her self-referential slices of NY and her mother. On the other hand her witness formalism is too rigorous for me--a bit like reading a text book on love instead of kissing someone. The simplicity of her film was altogether engaging however.
Old New York still existed when Chantal Akerman made this magnificent opus, really 2 films layered together, the intimate picture of a town that, essentially, is no more; and the intimate letters from a mom, so far away, who misses her daughter. The combination is brilliant.