Margulies considers how Chantal Akerman embraces the directness of the home movie to redesign, through lighting, perspective, and framing, analogues for the intricate relationship of symbiosis and distance between herself and her mother. The essay attempts to understand the film's emotional immediacy alongside and in tension with the filmmaker's characteristic indirection. It looks therefore to the kitchen talks (a sort of primal script between mother and daughter) as well as to the mysterious desert shots that crisscross the film's main focus on the apartment's interiors as two key tropes in the filmmaker's oeuvre connoting, respectively, domesticity and nomadism. The essay discusses how delicately Akerman represents in the film both the absence and the presence of her mother, the thread traversing all of her films.
Elemental Akerman: Inside and Outside No Home Movie
Ivone Margulies is Professor of Film and Media Studies at Hunter College, CUNY. She is the author of Nothing Happens: Chantal Akerman's Hyperrealist Everyday (Duke University Press, 1996), published in translation in an expanded edition by the University of São Paulo Press (2016). She is the editor of Rites of Realism: Essays on Corporeal Cinema (Duke University Press, 2003) and has written on cinéma vérité and psychodrama, French cinema and theatricality, and realism. Her book on in-person reenactment, The Real/Actor: Reenactment in Postwar Cinema, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.
Ivone Margulies; Elemental Akerman: Inside and Outside No Home Movie. Film Quarterly 1 September 2016; 70 (1): 61–69. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2016.70.1.61
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