STinG’s review published on Letterboxd:
I honestly can't figure out which would have been better to watch first: this or No Home Movie. Certainly if nothing else, the knowledge of Akerman's final year add to a magnitude of contextual devastation towards this film that I don't think I could have fathomed without it. Nevertheless, we still have a pretty emotionally tugging picture depicting through the association of location imagery and maternal narration a variety of headspaces for us to be brought into. And if it could be argued that using letter from your mother desperately asking for you to writer back is a major shortcut to having you be moved, well, it's still a pretty direct emotional appeal that works (and certainly no more of a shortcut than No Home Movie is).
Plus that truly ignores how much of the movie is just willing to let us explore urban and unglamorized sides of New York City with a long drive take that feels like the sort of thing that awakens your soul. Its lens towards the city is the thing that makes News from Home from feeling like a depression experience, just matter of fact about the city and what good and bad comes out of living in it (I in fact feel it matches my dad's deep ambivalence to the city, himself a long time resident. It's just a place he lives in now, like it or hate it as he occasionally does - mostly hate). And it's something that spills into the personal diary side of things (I mean, it's PART of the personal diary here - Akerman lived in New York City for a major part of her life, but you know what I mean) when it comes to the sound mix allowing city ambience to fully drown out Akerman's recitations of her mother's letters without any sense of discrimination.
I don't think I've fully chewed it through to determine my thoughts on it, but Akerman is one of my favorite filmmakers and so I feel there is a richness to it I still have to dig in for. Part of me wonders how this would have hit me if I was not as happy with living by myself far away from my family (and most of my friends) as I am, part of me wonders how thi would hit me if I saw it when I lived in Queens. No way to revisit that now, just moving forward to whenever I end up revisiting this someday.
(Also still blows my mind that this movie influenced Joker. Probably the part about how all the people in the subway can't stand that this Belgian woman is staring at them with a camera)