It's difficult for me to not be a little bitter towards certain circumstances surrounding her death. My love of Akerman's work is documented on this site going back to almost day one. That's something a lot of these bandwagon film sites & publications can't say. I find it funny reading all these pieces dedicated to Akerman after her death yet when she was alive her worked had been trashed and bad-mouthed by some of the very same publications in recent years (obviously not all, but still...). And what's even more frustrating is that her career spans over 40 years yet the main/only film people focus on is Jeanne Dielman... when, in my opinion, isn't even her best work. It's certainly iconic and worthy of all the praise it's gotten (and as you'll see in a few moments I use quite a few images from the film) but there's so much more to discuss (her semi-autobiographical Rendezvous D'Anna is a film worthy of the same over-analysis & dissection in my opinion).
Putting aside all the obvious influences that Jeanne Dielman... has had on art house cinema throughout the years...
|Jeanne Dielman.../Safe (Todd Haynes)|
|Jeanne Dielman... / Safe|
|Jeanne Dielman... / Silent Light (Todd Haynes)|
|Tout Une Nuit / U.S. Go Home|
|Je Tu Il Elle / Blue Is The Warmest Color|
|Jeanne Dielman / Clean, Shaven|
|News From Home / Permanent Vacation|
No Home Movie has an additional layer as it's kind of an unofficial sequel to her 2002 film La Bas (like No Home Movie, La Bas takes place primarily in an apartment, we hear Akerman's voice off camera a lot, they have the same up close & personal/claustrophobic vibe, and both films reference Judaism and the same family members).
Not to make this too much about myself but No Home Movie made me contemplate the lives of the loved ones around me. My Grandmother passed away a few months ago (not that much soon after Chantal Akerman passed away). Actually, Akerman's mother reminded me of my late grandmother. They have some of the same mannerisms, they're around the same age, and they have plenty of stories to tell (who wouldn't have stories to tell when you reach your late 80's/early 90's). As I watched the elder Akerman tell stories of World War 2, escaping Poland, and overcoming anti-semitism, I was reminded of my Grandmother's stories concerning civil rights, "colored's only" sections and tales about my dad as a kid.
No Home Movie also doubles as a comment on how we sometimes treat the elderly. Not to ruffle any feathers but the way Akerman's sister speaks to their mother in certain scenes is a little bossy & lightly patronizing. But she's certainly not the only adult to speak to their elderly parent that way. A lot of folks are guilty of it which is why this film is so important & relevant.
I know this all sounds harsh and a little pretentious but Akerman's work meant a lot to me so it's hard to not take things personally. She not only influenced some of my favorite filmmakers (both directly & indirectly) but she had the kind of guts that you don't see in too many filmmakers (male or female). (Two-face) Publications like indiewire are always clamoring for strong female voices in film as if Akerman hadn't been around since the late 60's (maybe stop writing so many articles on Melissa McCarthy, Tina Fey & Cate Blanchett and shine a spotlight on Akerman's work).