I’m Hungry, I’m Cold (1984) dir. Chantal Ackerman
“A great start!”
Chantal Ackerman is having a moment after topping both Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock in the latest BFI Sight & Sound poll to take the top spot for at least the next decade. So it seems appropriate to feature one of the many shorts from the Belgian auteur. Much of her filmography, including these shorts, is available for streaming through rentals or the Criterion Channel – but not this one! It’s available as a poor transfer on YouTube (there’s a slightly better transfer here).
The bad image quality wrecks a few moments, I’m afraid, particularly the expressions of one of the girls during the dine and dash and in the final shot where the girls disappear down a long alley. But there’s plenty of pixels left to appreciate the deft, funny chronicle of two teens from Brussels on a kind of Rumspringa in Paris. They flit from shot-to-shot with the day skipping by the way youthful days do. My favorite is the sudden arrival of morning and their subsequent exit frame left and arrival frame right at the café.
They’re constantly hungry, however much bread they scarf. They patter like Sherman-Palladino characters. They reject men and kiss each other. They follow another man back to his apartment. They decide they’ll be singers and find just the right restaurant to grace with their talents, invited or not. They have the lack of self-awareness bestowed on youth but also the charm of its innocence. Ackerman captures this in big moments – the impromptu restaurant concert – and subtle ones, like the duo’s faces absorbing the menu at the same restaurant, maybe a hint of disappointment in their expressions.
It’s a short trip captured by pacing as much as incident. A meal is had, they find warmth – so to speak – mission accomplished. Hard to tell where the pair is headed after that alleyway, maybe to more and bigger adventures, maybe to live as Jeanne Dielmans.