No Home Movie ★½

21/100

Starts out excruciating, like Jeanne Dielman minus Jeanne Dielman—shots of empty rooms (into which Akerman's mother may or may not occasionally, fleetingly wander) alternating with shots of human stasis. No context is provided for what's being shown, nor is there any particular reason why the absence of context would make the footage intriguing; in many cases, it's hard to distinguish between this movie and what would have been captured had someone just inadvertently pushed the record button on a camera while setting it down. (One composition neatly bisects the frame between light and darkness, but it's an anomaly.) Eventually, Akerman does start talking to her mother, which is a blessed relief. Rarely, though, do these conversations transcend mundane chitchat—there's exactly one that delves into topics of potential interest to people who aren't actually in the room. Particularly embarrassing are the Skype sessions, which twice have Akerman explaining to Mom that she's filming the screen in order to show (paraphrasing here, but accurately) how small the world has become thanks to modern technology, an observation that's sadly "and Chantal Akerman is on it!" Even the decision to push in close to the laptop at one point, turning Mom into abstract pixels, seems motivated primarily by an awareness that nothing else of any note is happening. Like Michel Gondry's little-seen doc The Thorn in the Heart, this project was surely therapeutic for its director, and would perhaps be useful for future biographers. As a movie, however, it's barely there.