Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

Three days in the life of a forty-year-old bourgeois widow are depicted in three hours and fifteen minutes of film. We watch Jeanne Dielman (Delphine Seyrig) perform the endlessly repetitious, robotized routines she requires to maintain her fusty home and care for her pampered, sullen son, structured and precisely timed activities that include prostituting herself each afternoon in her own tidy bedroom after she puts the potatoes on to boil and before her boy returns from school. So familiar have we become, halfway through the film, with the structure of this woman's life that an excruciating, Hitchcock-like tension emerges when she simply forgets to put the lid on her cash kitty, or turn off a light, or when the potatoes begin to burn-when she begins to fall apart. This is a tight, engrossing, and exhilarating experiment with a new kind of “melodrama,” and a masterful integration of the commercial feature with the avant-garde film. It was shot by an all-woman crew.

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