a k’s review published on Letterboxd:
Had to rewatch this in class which is not the same as originally watching it amidst a depressive episode at home but no setting is immune to its haunting power. In the context of Akerman’s work, an ouvre grappling with the intergenerational trauma of the holocaust and a sense of dislocation that makes the concept of home illusory for one-time refugees, footage of a city minus the person living in it and audio of letters from the director’s mother simulate that sense of migrant dislocation and the tenuous attempt at maintaining familial connection in spite of that. Rewatching this after seeing Akerman’s Histoires D’amerique I noticed that film’s opening shot is a reversal of this film’s last shot, an arrival to a new york this film departs from. That film etches a thesis where surreal, absurd yiddish/borscht belt humor is deeply intertwined with the trauma of pogroms and the holocaust, a coping mechanism for migrant refugees. This one ruminates on a sense of place or lack thereof before leaving entirely, in its own way flipping off the false promise of ellis island.