News from Home

News from Home ★★

[39]

Brings me no pleasure to lambaste this pseudo-doc, as I personally know many people who consider it one of their favorite films of all time. But this is almost precisely the opposite of what I find invigorating or enjoyable or remotely engaging when it comes to movies. Reminded me of a bit of THE MAN WHO SLEEPS—a film I think is fine but don’t particularly adore—only without the poetic construct, fictional liberty, or sense of trajectory: Severe absences that no amount of hardcoded intimacy can placate. Sure, it’s marginally interesting to see a long-gone (yet similarly rickety) New York City—meaning I’d have liked this even less in ’77, since that comparative effect would not exist—but the oft-cited idea that the busy streets, rundown storefronts, bustling people, and speechless subway cars are intended to supplement Akerman’s side of the correspondence simply doesn’t work for me; I don’t see any correlation - or anticorrelation, for that matter - between her mother’s letters and what’s being visually colligated. It’s more or less a (random) collage of New York shots with (random) letters being read aloud. Thought maybe there’d be a traceable path of the general demeanor or content of the letters—i.e., growing more despondent or demanding or terse or melancholy (or anything) with time—but the tone merely fluctuates without any actual “progression,” and the varying durations of silence between one letter and the next caused me more internal distress than it probably should have. Only shot that felt significant was the final one - the fading of a gigantic city against the nebulous horizon - but hardly enough to resonate backward through the preceding eighty minutes of monotony. Likely an intense case of It’s Not You, It’s Me. I can only shrug in retort.

Tony liked this review