Chantal Akerman used to make great 'minimalist' movies in which very little yielded a lot. Here, sadly, she takes a lot and reduces it to a small pile of mush. The film opens with a fatuous (because completely ahistorical) evocation of the Manhattan skyline as a 'mythic' palace of dreams, and then launches into an interminable anthology of monologues and sketches about the Jewish immigrant experience, most of them played out in an open-air restaurant under the Williamsburg Bridge. The most ancient Jewish jokes are retold with agonising pedantry, and interspersed with ghetto sob stories, refugee memories, tales of persecution and pub-theatre-type recitations. Most of the material apparently comes from Isaac Bashevis Singer, but that's no excuse. Jewish culture was never this dull or maudlin.
Cast and crew