No Home Movie ★★★★★

"The opening frame of Chantal Akerman’s final film No Home Movie is a near-static shot of a barren tree being torn apart by vicious bursts of wind. The old tree doesn’t fall, but you have to wonder how it persists in spite of the surroundings. She holds her camera on this tree for about four minutes, allowing the viewer to feel the passage of time and ponder the reasons why she held the camera on that tree for so long and what it could possibly mean. The image doesn’t necessarily open itself up to easy interpretation—Akerman was never one to make an easy picture—but it informs the type of experience that Chantal’s mother, Natalia, is going through during her final moments of failing health. The tree could also represent Chantal’s displacement. The title “No Home Movie” is blunt in conveying Akerman’s mother as her only place of comfort, but it also ties into her camera. Her lens—ironically most-widely known for the patience of Jeanne Dielman—has in fact never been able to sit in one country for long, as evidenced by documentaries like D’est (1993); South (1999); From the Other Side (2002); and Là-bas (2006), which saw the director move from Moscow to Israel and the United States. Akerman also has trouble staying in one place during No Home Movie, with many scenes of the director at home having conversations in her mother’s kitchen, but frequently being taken away to work on other projects or attend film festivals all over the world. In this way, No Home Movie displays the root of a key element of Akerman’s oeuvre—but it goes beyond the displacement into her more frequent themes of the Holocaust, her relationship with her mother, and the framing of the female body in solitary space."

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