Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

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

Flow. It’s the state of mind we enter when we get into the groove, we find an activity or series of action that get us out of our heads and we loose all sense of time. It’s probably the key to being happy. Jeanne Deilman’s tried and true routine that we see stretch on and on achieves this flow. For us the time that she spends cleaning or cooking dinner feels like an eternity, but for her time flies by as days compress into one long routine.

But then the routine becomes corrupted. Her favorite spot at the coffee shop is taken. Her son begins bringing up uncouth topics. Her daily life and her casual prostitution is revealed to be the oppressive drudge that it is. 

Much like her fellow neighbor to the south,  Agnes Varda, Akerman takes a very documentary approach to filmmaking. But instead of highlighting humanities minor details, Akerman takes the cold, observational macro view. Her style and form is much more structural in its execution as time itself, not Jeanne, becomes the subject. Along with Tarkovsky and Tsai, this is some of the most innovative use of elongated time that I’ve seen in film. A truly singular vision.

I must admit that this was boring and I started doing my own menial tasks alongside our heroine. It’s definitely not the most interesting thing in the world moment to moment. But as she began to lose control or in a sense wake up to the sexist reality she lives in, she becomes irate. And as she becomes dissatisfied she makes some coffee but she can’t be satisfied. This cyclical process of self-doubt grabbed me as it is something I’m all too familiar with. Many times when I make some food I add spices and hot sauce until it’s too hot, then I try too dilute. Then I repeat. I guess Akerman gets me.

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