Bernard Zelechow: "The Formalist Film-Maker with a Subtext"


The advice that loving one's mother is okay resonates within Akerman's narrative. Although in this film it receives comic treatment and the protagonist, unable to relate, is male instead of female, repression and alienation are similarly present. While unimportant to the film's meaning, the phrase points to the silence evident in Akerman's other films. By inference the viewer recognizes that the analyst left behind his mother and most of his childhood friends somewhere in Brooklyn for Harvard and Central Park West. Upward mobility rather than the holocaust is the repressed material. Perhaps not a very serious or traumatic matter. I suspect that Akerman could not have made this film in Europe. It is only in the expansiveness of American life that she can leave the Holocaust behind for American anonymity common to a certain segment of American Jewry. Her flirtation with America is common to many postwar French Jews. One recognizes the yearning in Georges Perec, and Jacques Derrida. The appeal is especially strong for Jewish identity that is lacking either Zionist or religious content. Yet, as a group they recognize that French universalism has failed them. It may be too much to say that Akerman's next film will return to a Jewish theme in which the protagonists have a richer Jewish identity. What we can say however is that the flirtation with America ends with the newly committed couple returning to a shared life in Paris.

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AS/SA Nº 8, Article 4 : Page 7 / 8

© 1999, Applied Semiotics / Sémiotique appliquée

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