Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
Voted the number one film of Sight & Sound’s 2022 Poll of the 100 Greatest Films.
Delphine Seyrig, Jan Decorte, Henri Storck, J. Doniol-Valcroze,
Observing her mother and her aunts while growing up, Chantal Akerman became aware of the way in which the unending repetition of domestic duties can be a proxy for emotion and self-expression. In Jeanne Dielman, Akerman, cinematographer Babette Mangolte, and a predominantly female crew depict three days in the life of a middle-aged widow, Jeanne (Delphine Seyrig), living alone with her teenage son. Those days are filled with a precisely circumscribed series of domestic tasks, framed straight on and taking place in what feels like real time. Watching Jeanne cook, mend, wash dishes, shine shoes, have sex for cash, bathe, and set the table becomes a visceral experience, as we become so habituated to the rhythm of her routine that even the slightest variation suggests the potential for something other than the potatoes to boil over.
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