I recently wathced “No Home Movie,” a documentary by Chantal Akerman. I had never heard of Ms. Akerman before I cam across this New York Times review. The review caught my eye because the movie is about Chantal Akerman’s intense bond with her elderly, dying mother, a French Holocaust survivor and because Ms. Akerman committed suicide after her mother died.
For years, I have been telling friends I can on watch movies where models are shooting zombies. That’s really all my brain can handle. Well the jokes on me, friends. I watched this long, slow documentary where for long periods of time, the camera froze on a wall or furniture or the filmmaker’s mom’s face, and I ate it up. Partially, it was how much the artist and mother clearly adored each other. Watching the old woman delight in her daughter, listen to her concerns quite seriously, remember her as a beautiful lovely student. They both expressed affection directly and honestly and simply. It was just moving. Perhaps I connected to it because my own mother is also aging (although my own exchanges with my mom are so much more barbed. My mother is one of the great loves of my life but she was born without an editor in her brain and I can definitely behave like a storm.)
There’s a moment where she asks Chantal why she’s filming her on Skype and Chantal says “I want to show how small the world is.” Her mother’s reaction was to laugh lightly and comment how Chantal has always had the most interesting ideas. Is that not moving?