News from Home

I feel like so much of News from Home has become inseparable from the more recent tragedies involving both Chantal Akerman and her mother (tragedies all too likely related). The already serenely melancholic atmosphere, over 30 years later, is given an elegiac air. One impossible for the filmmaker to have intended during its creation all those decades ago.

A deeper connection runs beneath all of Akerman's mother's words (and one that is evidently mutual - we never hear Akerman's replies, but the mere existence of this film is statement enough from her end), but is never directly spoken aloud. It doesn't need to be. It's contained in simple phrases of so much more import than their casual, conversational insertion in never more than a line or two would imply: "When are you coming back home?"

And therein lies a conflict - the notion of home. Is it that of the majority of her life (at least up until that point), in Belgium? Or the New York, with all its neon-lit bustle and littered side-streets vacated with the dawn? News from Home is a statement, whispered from a voice being pulled in two directions. How fitting that it ends on the water of the Atlantic, a space caught between Europe and America, and possessed by neither.

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