Friday, 22 April 2016


What makes a home a home? At what point does a point on the planet become one's own, not one's own property but a part of one's own persona? People populate spaces in Chantal Akerman's films, and vacate them too. Their presence gives purpose, furnishing these spaces with a practical identity; their absence raises the question of whether or not such spaces could be claimed to function, even to exist without them. Absence courses through No Home Movie, which indeed is no home movie, from the perspective of a person depicted as homeless, nomadic, and centring on another person, whose perception of home is at once narrowing, intensifying and fading away. Akerman's film is stark and unyielding as ever, and even more oblique than usual, in its dedication to a feeling of dislocation, expressed in intentionally, beautifully, aggravatingly tedious shots of arid desert landscapes. It's a self-portrait, one in which the subject is, of course, absent, and the effect is contemplative, chilling, and eventually horribly sad. Akerman is present in the home of her mother, present for the past, pored over in colloquial conversations that are a real treasure to behold; she is present and yet absent, rarely seen, often detected, never truly, wholly there. It's a particularly poignant association to make, connecting this thought of not actually participating in one's life with the fact that No Home Movie was this genius filmmaker's final artistic expression before committing suicide. That, and in serving as a chronicle for the event - the death of her mother - which many conclude may have precipitated her own death, makes this film an even more profound emotional accomplishment than a technical one. See it, and be thankful for what home you may have.