which a hand-out cited writing by Ivone Margulies in her book "Nothing
Happens: Chantal Akerman's Hyperrealist Everyday", pages p209-210 - A Nos
Amours received this mail, which seems worth sharing (thank you Peter
Peter is responding specifically to the Margulies analysis of 'Le
"Among the pleasures of any complete retrospective are the unexpected and
unknown gems. 'Le Déménagement' was one of these. I do find that most
writings about Akerman miss the immediacy of the films in a torrent of
ideological and semiotic theorizing, and this was particularly true of the
quote from Ivone Margulies in your programme notes. It isn't even accurate.
It isn't true that "the sum of the cinematic devices of 'Le Déménagement'"
is the camera tracking in. In fact, I don't think there are any tracks at
all. When the image closes in gradually, I would have thought that was a
zoom. And more often there is simply a cut to a closer camera position.
The most glaring of all "cinematic devices" in the film are the interspersed
brief moments of blackness as a kind of punctuating beat through the film.
But I also don't accept that the film is "a moral condemnation of the
character". He is absurd (and, of course, hardly 'believable' in a
naturalistic sense) but hardly reprehensible. Sami Frey's wonderful
performance is full of sadness as well as self-satisfaction. I don't think
we are invited to dislike him.
From the perspective of Akerman's later career (as the future adaptor of 'La
Captive') the association that struck me most forcibly was with Proust.
Does not Frey's wavering affection for the three girls resemble the initial
relation of Proust's narrator to the 'little band' of schoolgirls at Balbec?
The final selection of Albertine as the focus of his obsession is almost
arbitrary and accidental. For an extended period of time, his love is
directed towards the girls as a group, thought of as always together. Is
there not truth in Frey's claim that only he loved the three girls equally?
Akerman often disrupts conventional ideas of love relations (as 'Night and
Day' surely makes clear) in ways that can't be confined in the familiar
categories (straight/gay, male/female) to which commentators frequently
confine her. The absurdity of the aspects that cause him to love the girls
(the way one of them says "Zut!", for example) is no more than an
acknowledgement of the fetishism at the root of all desire, and is a very
Proustian observation (Albertine would not have been loved had she not been
first seen against the wide glittering expanse of the sea).
Best then, I think, not to come to Akerman's films armed with theories. But
rather to come ready to be disarmed.
I'm looking forward to the rest of the season."
Peter Benson Nov 2014