Nicolò Grasso’s review published on Letterboxd:
Original Title: Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles
Year of Release: 1975
Director: Chantal Akerman
Writer: Chantal Akerman
Main Cast: Delphine Seyrig, Jan Decorte
When starting a film like Jeanne Dielman, you have to go in with the right expectations. If you want a riveting and melodramatic character study, you are in the wrong place. This is a 3h20m slow drama, one that relishes in the mundane and the repetitiveness of day-to-day life.
I am shocked to see that Chantal Akerman made this film at the age of 24-25, for it feels like an incredibly mature work of art, the product of many years of living in the world or of observing someone fulfill this almost predestined routine (turns out it's the latter, for Akerman based this on her mother). And the main beauty of seeing the daily routine of Jeanne Dielman stems from the repeating actions, giving us a close to look the life of a woman who spends most of her time caring for her house.
We all probably have had mothers like this, caught in a seemingly endless loop, doing their best no matter how small and futile it may be, sacrificing their time so that the others could be freer to do something else. No matter how slow the film is, there is an undeniable level of engagement at play that is not easy to achieve, with small disruptions in the routine feeling like almost earth-shaking events.
Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles is no easy watch, and I wouldn't even say that I adored watching the film. But Akerman made something really special and unique, with a brilliantly committed lead performance by Seyrig, great shot composition in the static camera shots, and an attention to detail that cannot be overlooked. It all ends in a way that is heartbreaking and tragic, which makes you rethink everything you had seen up until that point. A true must-watch for fans of cinema, and a film well deserving of its title as a classic from the 70s.
Visual Effects: 9
Violence & Gore: 6
Sex & Nudity: 5
Drugs & Profanity: 0
Intensity & Horror: 2