News from Home

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

I believe that all films have rhythms, but no one-word marking like "allegro" or "adagio" could label a Chantal Akerman film and that's true of her symphonic masterpiece "New from Home."

All of the images presented in "News" are unique and individual, but in the end add up to a portrait of New York City, familial separation and aging. Whereas most films stay one tempo with only few liberties, "New from Home" is chameleon and challenging in its pace. No conventions dictates when each new letter presents itself and the spaces between are poetic and filled with longing. Each image is grossly encompassing of the city, but the scope of the imagery is often narrow, exposing the banality of the tasks of the most-often forgotten New Yorkers who go on with their days. 

"News from Home" doesn't have operatic swells of emotion, but the feelings are gorgeous and repetitive. Longing, loose dollars and well wishes are motifs. Stories of families and friends fill the spaces and create the different musical ideas. 

The city noise starts off uninterrupting; an accompaniment to the solo voice -- mother reading her letters. As the city becomes the main character and the unseen addressee of the letter a sole part of it, cars, birds and chatter becomes louder and the solo voice has to fight to be heard. 

If "News" were a symphony it would be Mahler's 9th, distinctively pensive and quiet. It wouldn't be his unfinished 10th, because Akerman doesn't even give the finality of a new beginning in the final scene; the film's only examination of the New York skyline. "News from Home" ends just as every scene does -- with a decrescendo that never promises to restart.