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When I first moved to NYC, I spent a lot of time reading books set in New York. A few that come to mind include The Odd Woman and the City by Vivian Gornick, The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, On The Move by Oliver Sacks, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P by Adelle Waldman, & Sons by David Gilbert and Open City by Teju Cole. Watching this film reminded me of that time in my life. Although 1970s New York isn’t 2013 New York, the city where I landed, the experience of moving alone, to a city as mythical and enormous as New York, and making a life for yourself is a timeless experience.

Chantal Ackerman through her images and her mother’s words captures this feeling beautifully. There is equal parts pain, loneliness, courage, ambition, hope and anguish in this film. That’s an impressive feat to accomplish with nothing more than well composed shots and petit bourgeois concerns expressed through letters from home.