Skip to main content

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...

PINA BAUSCH

The film follows the dance group of Pina Bausch in Germany, Italy and Avignon in France during her most recent European tour. It shows the working atmosphere, the presentation, the intense ... More »

ALL ONE NIGHT

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 ... More »

MAN WITH A SUITCASE

Akerman's Man With a Suitcase, starring herself, is an unexpected mixture of Chaplinesque comedy and poignant self-mockery. ... Returning home to write a film script and desperately needing the ... More »

FROM THE EAST

This stylised documentary from the (always art) House of Akerman is the product of the director's travels from East Germany to Moscow shot over some six months. Without the conventional documentary ... More »

NIGHT AND DAY

... ... Considering that she is one of the most con­sistently original filmmakers of our time, ifs difficult to explain the under-currency of Chantal Akerman's work. Put it down to the vagaries ... More »

THE MEETINGS OF ANNA

In 1975, Chantal Akerman made Jeanne Dielman, 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 continues her ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director