No Home Movie is haunted by two ghosts. The subject of Chantal Akerman’s film is her mother, Natalia, who passed away in April 2014 at age of 86, and the director herself who died in 2015, shortly after the film’s world premiere. Akerman may not have originally intended for No Home Movie to be her swansong, but there is the inescapable feeling of a chapter being closed with this film. Akerman’s relationship with her mother was one of the themes that united her eclectic body of work, with Natalia being a key figure in many of her installation pieces and most memorably in her 1977 film News From Home, to which No Home Movie feels like a companion piece.
Just as in News From Home, mother and daughter spend part of No Home Movie communicating from different continents, although this time Skype makes the interaction more direct. “I want to show that there is no distance in the world,” Akerman tells her mother who, with a look of confusion, peers into her monitor. “You always have such ideas, don’t you darling?” Natalia smiles back. At other times, Akerman and her mother sit across the table from one another to continue their conversation. “Tell me a story,” Akerman asks of the woman who fled Poland in 1938 and survived internment in Auschwitz, where her own parents died. Even as the pair discuss the most mundane things, such as Natalia’s upcoming medical appointments, or the best method of preparing potatoes, we get the sense that every moment is precious for a daughter who knows that the time she has to spend with her mother is rapidly running out.
Read the rest of my review at Little White Lies