No Home Movie ★★★½

I'm glad even if the reasons are unfortunate that this has gotten such a higher profile than other recent Akerman films if just because in the broad she deserves to have a higher profile than as the woman behind Jeanne Dielman. This does have a lot in common with that movie though. Certainly more than any other post '70s work of hers I've seen. It highlights very strongly we talents as a structuralist to the point where the direct cinema and confessional elements like the conversations over skype are often a shocking change of mode. It is probably sloppy and it makes me sympathetic to the negative reaction to the film before Akerman's death even if I disagree. Though my softness on the film might be caused due to my mother, one of my few living links to the past, likewise being so close to her moment of death with a fatal illness occupying her body if not always our time. If she were already dead I would probably be even softer. Even without that connective tissue the character of the mother is interesting for how she presents a manipulation of time and roles. There i a scene 40 minutes in for example where Chantal Akerman nags her mother on her food and explicitly says she is taking the role of the mother as the actual mother becomes a child. On and on the film goes until their two characters become a singular character transferring bodies by time. It is an intensely sad thing that really unnerves me due to its sense of
inevitability.

There's also a very interesting sense of space to the film which is where the structuralist tendencies come out. The film regularly compares the sparse and open space of the American road to the claustrophobic enclosure that Belgium holds for Akerman as if even the country that saved the existence of her family is a scary and dangerous place. There's also no human in American with even the closest symbols of intelligent life fogged by shadows and the landscape. The austere camerawork seems to suggest that this land of safety is merely providing a more comfortable isolation, not a free home.


As an aside I find it interesting the difference from the professional critics I've read where the Jewish ones like Ehrlich bristle against the film much more than others complaining rather amusingly of over specificity on Akerman's part while talking about the film with an over specificity as well. Though I'm probably guilty of this too instantly ranking it beneath South and From the Other Side despite having just as much meat to grab onto. It really brings home what a Jewish film this is and at least for me how under discussed as a Jewish filmmaker she was like Melville. This may be the most explicit example of her as a Jewish filmmaker, but it seems at least as consistently applied an imposition as the feminist reading most people discuss her films as.