An early subtext masterpiece by CHANTAL AKERMAN
For me a good film maker knows exactly what to show an audience, but a great film maker knows what not to show them.
Giving an audience information through film is a great craft but implying information is a much greater cinematic feat.
(I’m not going into the title, so many people have gone over this already. If you are interested in it click here)
As soon as the film begins the mysterious protagonist states she has left somewhere and now lives in a spacious house. We are given little to no information in relation to where it is she has left or whom she has left from. All we know is in this new house that she continuously tries to redecorate, move furniture and “express” herself through letters has left her lost and lonely.
Her original three page letter suddenly becomes six pages and more. She is finding it hard to express whatever it is she is feeling.
She takes off her clothes (not worrying if people can see her from outside) sometimes she glances out the window to stare at whatever is going on. We as the audience only ever see the house, everything that happens outside is only heard and she is the only person who sees that information. This shows the film is not trying to see things through the protagonist’s eyes but simply observe her anthropologically and unsympathetically.
Eventually she goes exploring and runs into a truck driver who she seems to be attracted to, they drive around in the twilight, eat food and drink at his local bar. There is one moment of slight sexual interaction but there is a feeling that she is not fully interested in him sexually.
There is a scene where he talks of his family and his tedious job in an almost interview like set up
She eventually turns up at the door of a pretty girl, there seems to be chemistry between them, but also a feeling that they should not be there together. The young woman she has visited says simply “I don’t want you to stay”, however the playful compatibility between them over powers it. What happened between them? Why are they not allowed to be together? Is it information we need to know? Personally I don’t think so. The young girl she has visited could have a husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, strict family, maybe the protagonist was abusive… it could be anything but that is not important, what is important is they both have chemistry and history, but they cannot be together.
The young woman makes food for the protagonist (after she almost arrogantly states “I’m hungry”) this gives off the sense that the young woman is easily over powered and submissive to her.
There is a scene where the protagonist unbuttons the girls dress; the girl shakes her head in protest but soon folds to temptation. A lengthy real time sex scene begins where despite it’s explicitly, it continues to show the attuned nature of the couple both physically and emotionally.
After they have sex the protagonist leaves the bedroom whilst the young girl is still asleep.
A whole complex relationship and the effects it has on the people involved is implied but never told. We are never aware of certain events or background information, only the subtle gestures of human interaction and presence.