L’enfant aimé ou je joue à être une femme mariée

L’enfant aimé ou je joue à être une femme mariée

A young mother, alone with her daughter, confides in a friend who happens to be the director herself. Chantal Akerman, although she sympathizes with the mother, does not say a word.


“Akerman's initial dismissal of L'Enfant aimé was made while describing her encounter with Jonas Mekas in New York. Akerman records his approval of Saute ma ville (he called it her 'Chaplin film'), but evidently he did not approve of her second. Akerman's reasoning in regard to L'Enfant aimé is obscure - she made an annotated filmography for Nicole Brenez, marking it simply "A failure, lost." [...] 

Strikingly Akerman herself is often in the frame, not as a performer, as in Saute ma ville, and not as behind the camera auteur, chooser of shots and framings, as in Hotel Monterey, but fully in the shot, attending closely to her friend's talk and daily life. She is a curious presence: not participating in the scene, but nonetheless there before us. Akerman's presence changes the nature of the gaze, dislocating the metaphysics and politics of looking. She is not in every shot, but she is so often there that even when she is not there, she is there by implication. The pattern of her presence and absence is structured, for me, in an analogous way to interior/exterior: Akerman's presence provokes the young mother's reflective remarks, when absent, the young mother becomes full of purpose, action and then overt expression of thoughts - albeit that she seems often driven by anxiety, with a tendency to repetition and circularity. For example, when Akerman is there, the conditions of married life can be talked of, calmly and dispassionately, but when she is absent, the woman's own body becomes the focus of examination, description and a listing of merits and demerits (as in the mirror sequence mentioned above). Clothes and outfits are tried out. Akerman being present in frame means that when she is not there, we are nonetheless very much aware that she might be so at any moment.”

Adam Roberts1

  • 1Adam Roberts, "In Defence of Akerman's L'Enfant Aimé," ICA, 27 November 2013.
UPDATED ON 29.01.2024
IMDB: tt0067053