In Tomorrow We Move, Charlotte (Sylvie Testud) lets her widowed mother Catherine (Aurore Clément) move into her two-level abode and, aside from her mother’s luxurious grand piano (lowered via crane in the film’s dreamlike first shot), every other last possession adds to an already cluttered living space. Meanwhile, in between impulsively moving random pieces of furniture out of her place and onto the sidewalk below, she continues to mope in front of her laptop computer, plodding through a piece she has been commissioned to write. Chantal Akerman’s carefree but almost suffocatingly schematic imitation of comedy mixes the whiplash pacing of screwball, a near-surrealist approach to narrative, and, most incongruously, the centralization of the non sequitur (maybe not quite to the précis represented in Airplane when a scene of airborne panic is interrupted by an extreme close-up of pert, jiggly naked breasts, but close). Told to whip up a batch of erotic prose, despite the fact that her life experience dabbling in eroticism has apparently been amassed through eavesdropping, Charlotte collects random snatches of other people’s descriptors and stories, convinced that they represent a concentrated intimacy. And sometimes they nearly do, as when she overhears a man at a coffee shop apparently telling someone over the phone the size and character of his genitalia. The screwball punchline is when she discovers that he was describing the apartment that he is trying to unload. The Akerman anti-punchline is when Charlotte discovers, through the process of trying to sell her own cramped apartment, that selling/buying an apartment is indeed among the most socially intimate acts. The gentleman from the coffee shop invites Charlotte to his flat and immediately discerns she’s a “third generation” Jew, simply from her perceptive reaction to the apartment’s smell of Polish despair. Later, after ultimately deciding to timeshare a studio so she can write in peace, she discovers that the woman she only met once (and who insisted on never meeting after the agreement to share the apartment) has surreptitiously helped finish writing the erotic novel while Charlotte was away, as though the side-effect of sharing space (and listening to the same fucking couples on the other side of the walls) was a shared experience so acute that one wouldn’t recognize the other rewriting her work. It would be pure absurdism (capped off by Testud’s droopy-eyed mugging—you can almost hear the sound of an Acme diving board vibrating with each accelerated turn of her head) if Akerman’s detached logic didn’t make so much sense.
For whatever reason, the air in Charlotte's apartment holds onto smoke and dust to what looks like a toxic level. The DVD video transfer (from what looks like a PAL source) matches the miasma with a shimmering all its own. Whites are a little crushed, blacks have a slight green haze, but at least the focus doesn't waver and it comes from a flawless print. The sound mix is a step above the video, crisply reproducing the recurring music from the grand piano downstairs. Also, the subtitles are burned in, which is always tacky.
A trailer and some text pages on Chantal Akerman's career and filmography. The menu screen uses an amusing clip from the film and ruins it with ridiculous faux-comic font. Oh, well. At least it's not whatever college letterman's jacket font they chose for the cover.
Is Sylvie Testud playing Björk on the DVD cover? Shhhh.it's oh so quiet.