News from Home

News from Home ★★★★½

As a stranger in the city, wandering up and down the streets of Manhattan alone for the past three days, I feel a real kinship with Chantal Akerman, whose own sense of physical dislocation and existential alienation is present in every frame of News from Home. Through her mother's letters, she can hear her family, home and past calling out for her to return, but that voice is frequently drowned out by the mechanical bustle of the city. Akerman rides the subway aimlessly with no destination in mind. Peering into those 1970s subway cars is like opening up a time capsule of what transportation looked like before the Information Age: dozens of people sitting and standing together in graffitied metal boxes, Easter Island heads gazing blankly forward without cell phone screens to busy their idle minds. How disheartening to realize that we were always alone. That final parting shot--a ferry ride away from the city--crackles with the suspenseful energy of a prison break. Her former cage receding into the distance, its concrete enormity now dwarfed by the fog, Akerman watches a pair of seagulls flapping their wings towards an unknown destination. She's escaped; now what?