From The Other Side

Chantal Akerman.

France/Belgium 2002, 99 min.

Like Sud, which focussed on small-town Texas, From the Other Side is shot on video, and while there are moments where this doesn’t work well at all, this latest documentary is for the most part a fine continuation of Akerman’s ongoing concerns and aesthetic tendencies.

The work has a number of quite extraordinary, lengthy and fluid tracking shots, many of which are reminiscent of D’est, which was on 35mm (those long takes were often shot out of streetcars whereas these are often shot from pickup trucks). A particularly compelling example is when Akerman’s camera takes us across the Mexican border into Arizona. It is a slow, languid image utterly devoid of the kind of bravado that immortalized the opening scene of Welles’ Touch of Evil (1958), which also crosses the Mexican border in a single shot.

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