In ‘Les Rendez-vous d’Anna,’ Many Meetings but No Connections
A precocious masterpiece can forged a protracted shadow. Such has seemingly been the lot of “Les Rendez-vous d’Anna” (“The Conferences of Anna”), the Belgian director Chantal Akerman’s 1978 follow-up to her monumental “Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles,” from 1975, which has largely obscured it.
Taking part in for every week at BAMcinématek in a brand new 4K restoration, “Anna” reappears as an illumination of the filmmaker’s inside life, all of the extra affecting in gentle of her suicide three years in the past, at age 65.
Like “Jeanne Dielman” (1975), which devoted three-and-a-half hours to the day by day routines of a Brussels housewife-prostitute, “Anna” is a portrait of a girl, really a self-portrait. Anna Silver (Aurore Clément), a 28-year-old filmmaker who’s the Belgian-born youngster of Holocaust survivors, is a stand-in for Akerman, touring from one European metropolis to a different to introduce screenings of her film.
“Anna” opens on an empty, symmetrically framed practice platform in Essen, West Germany. Anna arrives, makes an unheard telephone name and checks right into a featureless resort. She stays for an evening, which incorporates an unsatisfying tryst, then returns to Paris, stopping en route in Cologne and Brussels. In every metropolis, she interacts with somebody who’s, in some sense, displaced, together with her mom (Lea Massari).
Reviewing “Anna” when it was proven within the 1979 “New Administrators/New Movies” collection on the Museum of Fashionable Artwork, the New York Instances critic Janet Maslin wrote that Akerman’s grave, solitary alter ego “is each so fearless and joyless she’s nearly a ghost.” Anna is haunting a grey, transitory panorama that’s itself haunted by the reminiscences of World Struggle II. As a lot as something, “Anna” evokes the sentiments of a Jew touring alone in postwar Germany.
Extra private than may need been appreciated in 1978, “Anna” brings Akerman’s career-long considerations to the fore — homelessness, solitude, the child-parent relationship, the character of sexual identification. It even riffs on itself as a (comparatively) business film. The austerely stunning Clément is as willowy as a trend mannequin whereas, in her youth, Massari performed the sultry younger Anna (!) who goes lacking in Michelangelo Antonioni’s “L’avventura.”
Like “L’avventura,” “Anna” has a seemingly placid floor narrative roiled by mysterious clues: the necktie a earlier occupant left in Anna’s resort room; her off-handed reference to the 2 daughters, every with a biblical identify, she may need had; the hall of a Brussels-bound practice that out of the blue fills with “visitor staff”; the German who complains that his spouse “ran off with a Turk”; the informal revelation that, like Franz Kafka, Anna twice broke her engagement to the identical fiancé; the jaunty Edith Piaf ballad, “Les Amants d’un Jour” (“Lovers for a Day”), that she unexpectedly performs for her occasional lover (Jean-Pierre Cassel).
Directly introspective and observational, “Anna” is a highway film about an unresolved inside journey; its true topic is its maker’s psychological state. Probably the most highly effective pictures are the close-ups of Anna on the practice, adrift in Europe and misplaced in her ideas. Not the primary film to make dramatic use of a phone answering machine, this was most likely the primary to provide the answering machine the final phrase. As Anna performs again her messages, the penultimate one merely asks, “Anna, the place are you?”
Rewind is an occasional column masking revived, restored and rediscovered films taking part in in New York’s repertory theaters.
Les Rendez-vous d’Anna
Via Nov. 22 at BAM Rose Cinemas, Brooklyn; 718-636-4100, bam.org/BAMcinematek.
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