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PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG GIRL AT THE END OF THE 60S, IN BRUSSELS

France, 1993 (MIFF 1995)

Director: Chantal Akerman

Belgium's arbiter of minimalist chic, Chantal Akerman, takes a leisurely stroll through the capital, casting a casual but revealing glance at adolescent anxiety and unspoken love along the way. Thumbing her nose at period authenticity, Akerman instead incites a climate of political consciousness (just prior to the May '68 upheavals) and social change using minor nuances of character, indirect dialogue and a freewheeling filmmaking style. The result is a film of surprising subtlety, intimacy and economy.

Akerman's light, almost playful tone contrasts with the sadness of the title character, fifteen year-old Michelle. Having decided to quit school, the girl sits at a train station, idly forging absentee notes, with excuses ranging from an illness in the family to her own death. She goes to the movies and succumbs with no qualms, but with no partic­ular enthusiasm, to the amorous advances of a Parisian army deserter, Paul. They wander the streets while the camera ambles along with them, mimicking their pleasurably unhurried gate.

Akerman then abruptly strips away her charac­ters' defences by robbing them of the insulation offered by the city and its traffic noises, and plac­ing the couple alone in an empty apartment. In an almost plaintive scene, they dance (to Leonard Cohen's Suzanne) and then slip between the sheets. But the film's real emotional thrust comes when Michelle keeps a prearranged appointment with Danielle: clearly the true object of her affections.

See also...

GOLDEN EIGHTIES (PG)

Belgium, France, 1986
“Like Jacques Demy on speed.” - Time Out ... Chantal Akerman's candy-coloured musical is set entirely in a Parisian shopping mall, in an unashamed celebration of 80s French pop, young love and fr… More »

PIERROT LE FOU (M)

France, 1965
“I saw Pierrot le fou by chance… I decided to make movies the same night.” - filmmaker Chantal Akerman. ... Marking a transition between Jean-Luc Godard's earlier works and his later more … More »

THE MEETINGS OF ANNA

Belgium/France/West Germany, 1978
In 1975, Chantal Akerman made Jeanne Dielrnan, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, and since then, she has been in the forefront of a developing feminist cinema. Les rendez-vous d'Anna Chantal Akerm… More »

ALL ONE NIGHT

France, 1982
lmages of night and images of love are ... interwoven with each other, couples ... meet and separate, fragments of life are ... captured in short scenes. They don't tell ... a story, and yet, they te… More »

THE EIGHTIES

Belgium, 1983
The Melbourne Him Festival has been showing Chantal Akerman's highly original and demanding films regularly over the years ("Jeanne Dielrnan", "Les Rendezvous D'Anna", "Toute Une Nuit",) with varying… More »

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