Friday 23 September 2022

The Meetings of Anna [1978]

 Disaffection, displacement, loneliness, rootlessness, and emotional ambivalence were the defining attributes of Chantal Akerman’s autofiction film The Meetings of Anna. Made right after her monumental masterpiece Jeanne Dielman and during a phase when she was crafting one sublime, muted, nuanced, decidedly political and profoundly personal work after another, it formed a compelling companion piece to Je Tu Il Elle in particular and so much of her cinema in general, given her striking explorations of feminism, identity, queerness, memories, existential crises and living in a state of flux. Made with customary formal rigour – narrative minimalism, sparseness, empty spaces, melancholic hues, and bold use of silences – it presaged her magnificent mosaic film Toute Une Nuit, in the way they were both foregrounded on fragmented and momentary relationships.  Anna (Aurore Clément) – striking stand-in for Akerman herself – is a Belgian filmmaker who’s on a movie screening tour through various cities across Europe – Cologne, Brussels, Paris, etc. And, while putting up at different cold, impersonal hotels – small and shabby, big and elegant, discreet and modernist – she engages with diverse people and for a myriad reason, viz. impersonal one-night-stands with strangers, clandestine sleep-over with an old lover (Jean-Pierre Cassel), attempts at reconciliation with a bitter former friend, candid reconnect with her mother (Lea Massari) with whom she can easily shed all her physical and emotional inhibitions. Alongside these, she’s continuously trying to get in touch with a woman with whom she had a brief but intense affair. The cyclicity of her existence was brilliantly underscored when, finally on her own bed in her apartment, she listens to a series of telephonic messages which end with plans being spelled out for her next move screening tour.

Director: Chantal Akerman

Genre: Drama/Semi-Autobiographical Film

Language: French

Country: Belgium

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