News from Home

News from Home ★★★★

The Criterion Challenge 2021: Round 2

Chantal Akerman embraces silence better than anyone else. I struggle to think of another director who uses moments of quietness as efficaciously as she does. We saw it in Jeanne Dielman, and it is just as evident in News From Home (despite being less than half of the former's runtime).

News From Home made me miss my mother. Which is saying something, because she is sitting right next to me. More than that, I think it made me regret the feeling of having ever formed an incomplete relationship with someone. The feeling of slipping further away, the feeling of being separated. Akerman conveys the dissonance of her mother's letters by gradually integrating its narration within the sounds of New York, slowly forming it as a part of the background noise. And with this, she creates something of resounding loneliness and desolation. Through both sound and lack thereof, that feeling of detachment is at its strongest.

Happy Birthday, Chantal Akerman. An undisputed master who will always deserve a place amongst the all-time greats.

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