Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

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

“But sometimes,” Jeanne’s sister writes from Canada, “when I think of you, tears come to my eyes.” A whole life’s careful economies and generosities and sacrifices and labor and unknown pleasures contained in an elegant porcelain soup tureen; a repository of secrets, but one that’s right there, hiding in plain sight. A world crashing down because of an orgasm and a pot of overcooked potatoes; the immensely touching fact that she refuses to even repurpose them (“I could have made mashed potatoes, but we’re having that tomorrow”) hints at both the sacred nature of Jeanne’s rituals and the horror of what it means to face everything that those rituals so delicately hold together. “There’s no point talking about these things.” Monumental.

(I can only speak of my own viewing experience, but I don’t think I truly watched this before. Coming to it late already after years of cinephilia, I think I was too self-consciously approaching what I already knew as the legend. It’s only in coming back to Jeanne’s world that I really learned how to live in it with her.)

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