After her successes in the 1970s, Chantal Akerman turned toward the pleasures of popular cinema with a playful series of comedies and love stories, culminating in this extraordinary multi-character musical, set entirely in a shopping mall. A stylish, bittersweet look at the romantic tribulations of an assortment of shop owners and retail workers, the film evokes The Umbrellas of Cherbourg in its charm, but with a distinctly feminist bent. With songs co-written by Akerman and Marc Herouet, the film leads us through the tangled predicaments of clothing-shop owner Jeanne (Delphine Seyrig), who finds herself torn when her long-lost G.I. love, Eli (filmmaker John Berry), looks her up after 40 years; her son Robert (Nicolas Tronc), who is infatuated with Lili (Fanny Cottençon), a salon manager who in turn is having an affair with its owner, married gangster Monsieur Jean (Jean-François Balmer); hairdresser Mado (pop singer Lio), who has a crush on Robert; and coffee-bar proprietor Sylvie (Myriam Boyer), who pines for her boyfriend who’s gone to work in America. For this utterly delightful passion project, which she described as a postmodern cross between women’s cinema, Jewish literature, and musicals, Akerman collaborated with an extraordinary/unlikely dream team of writers—Desperately Seeking Susan screenwriter Leora Barish, veteran Truffaut/Rivette/Resnais scenarist Jean Gruault, former Cahiers du Cinéma critic Pascal Bonitzer, and filmmaker Henry Bean (The Believer).
Closing Night · Chantal Akerman Tribute
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