(out of 5)
Chantal Akerman films the last few months of her mother’s life in a sweet documentary that turns out to be her own swan song: her mother Natalia passed away not long after filming, while Akerman took her own life not long after the film’s release. Meditative images of the director’s travels are presented between scenes of discussion with her mother about the past, their family or just expressing their affection for each other. For fans of the filmmaker, much of the subject matter will be familiar as Akerman has explored her mother’s past, particularly her having been an Auschwitz survivor, in other films (News From Home, for example), but to hear it directly from the subject adds a poignancy that is highly valuable. To hear her mother compliment her daughter on her unique ideas and how much she loves her for it makes an intelligent and confident piece so much richer with affection, and makes the final scenes, when we see Natalia decline in health, so much more devastating.
Directed by Chantal Akerman
Screenplay by Chantal Akerman
Cinematography by Chantal Akerman
Film Editing by Claire Atherton
Toronto International Film Festival: 2015