No Home Movie ★★★★★

Within one year of this film being made both the director Chantal Akerman and her mother Natalia were dead. I'd be lying if I said that didn't inform my viewing of No Home Movie, an aptly titled film that offers the double meaning of both highlighting the importance of capturing her mother's final thoughts and reflections while in the grip of a serious illness, and the director's own peripatetic lifestyle that keeps her on the road for much of the year attending film festivals, etc. Opening with a static shot of a tree in the midst of a terrible wind storm, and lingering for over five minutes, an apt metaphor for her feelings towards her mother, No Home Movie presents a series of unaltered static observations of her and her mother having dinner, and talking, sometimes in person and sometimes over Skype, talking about life, about her childhood, and about World War II. Akerman has always been a master of spatial relations in her film, and somehow manages to find the perfect location for the camera, refusing to move it until about halfway through, when a long take out the window of a moving car, passed a desolate, barren landscape, precipitates a switch to occasional hand held camerawork in dim or nearly no light, as her mother's illness starts to take hold of her. Such formalism is another one of her hallmarks, and it is stunning to see an artist exercise such control over a work of art that practically begs her to let go, which she ultimately does a few months later. Extremely powerful, and one of the best films of last year.