Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles ★★★★★

I know this is utterly wrong as an approach, for a variety of reasons (for example, see next paragraph), but I have to admit that, as the stay-at-home partner in my spousal relationship, watching Jeanne go through her routine in the first part of the film—before she overcooks the potatoes and everything goes wrong—made me feel like an athlete watching an impressively clean and efficient performance from another athlete competing in the same sport as me. Tens across the board. And then, also, after she overcooks the potatoes, man, I’ve been there—everything was going so smoothly, and now this one thing went wrong, and the instinct is to throw it all away, and then you have to go to the shop, and you have to put your coat and shoes on and it just feels wrong, and takes time, and then you have to start the cooking all over again, and it’ll affect the timings of everything, and you feel bad for performing sub-optimally and ruining the evening for the person you live with, even though they’re obviously fine with it. And then you realise—you could have made mash with those potatoes! Damn. That would have been the best option, but in your glitchy horror at that small but essential part of the day going wrong, you had gone temporarily blind to creative solutions. Been there, been there, been there.

But—I do understand there’s a big difference between being a woman like Jeanne, who is trapped by societal expectations that she perform all this labour as invisibly and obediently as she can, and being a man (ish) who chooses to make domestic labour a big part of my day-to-day existence, because it’s the most sensible arrangement given our circumstances, and enjoying it, in part because it feels like a rebellion against societal expectations, as well as my own parents’ expectations that I pursue an impressive career in a prestigious field.

The ending is an all-timer.

Part of March Around the World 2022
Country: Belgium

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