josephine’s review published on Letterboxd:
for some reason it is impossible for me to not compare this film to the (severely overlooked and underrated) films of james benning. the way the city is portrayed in this film is strangely similar to the benning's films while somehow also being the exact opposite. news from home is less slow and hard to grasp compared to benning's works but there's a similar feeling of patience in the way both akerman and benning portray the mundane beauty of things in a very neutral and honest way that leaves room for the viewer to see things in the shots and more importantly get feelings out of these images without ever being told what to feel.
what's even more interesting to me than these similarities are the two main differences between news from home and benning's films. the inclusion of the letters by akerman's mother adds an emotional connection to the film that can't be found anywhere in benning's work (at least from what i've seen). while benning's work is definitely not free of emotion, his films feel mostly cold and distant
this works very well, especially in landscape suicide and ruhr but it makes it harder to connect with his films whereas the read out letters make news from home a lot more accessible and add an entirely new feeling of melancholy to the film.
the most notable difference though (at least to me) is that akerman shows us lots of mundane actions this makes the city in akerman's film feel alive. benning's shots on the other hand are often show us the emptiness of spaces. all of his shots are static, there is barely any movement, there are barely any people. therefore the places in his films feel cold and empty, at times almost discomforting. akerman's film is the opposite, it's very comforting by showing us a city that is alive. through this it makes you feel and understand her attachment to this place, making every bit of emotion real and honest and i have no idea what i'm writing and i keep fucking repeating myself and i should end this review right now
in case you don't want to waste your time by reading this mess of a "review" where i barely talk about the film anyway here's a quick summary of my thoughts:
i adore this film, the way it portrays the city is brilliant, it feels alive and beautiful but there's a sense of honesty to the way akerman shows us the beauty or the city in a very neutral way that gives the viewer the freedom to get their own feelings out of every scene of this film. the letters that work as a kind of narration give the film a wonderfully bittersweet feel that makes the experience somehow even more beautiful and comforting.