Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

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

This one was really something. An immense study in rewarding the patient viewer, a powerful exploration of woman, a revolutionary statement on filmmaking and the virtue of taking your time and allowing silence to speak volumes. I've never experienced anything like this before, and it feels increasingly more rare to be able to say that these days. Chantal Akerman truly delivered something here that's unlike anything else, and the way that she allows you to be so thoroughly enveloped in the life of this woman, the day to day minutaie of the most routine of activities, it gets you so invested in simply existing with a character in a way that I don't think anyone else has accomplished.

You really just feel like you're living this person's life in an unbelievably authentic way, truly a fly on the wall seeing the kind of things that movies never let us see because they're not dramatic enough and the filmmaker doesn't trust you to stay involved. For the patient audience, the length of this picture is an absolute gift, allowing us that full measure of living with this character, so that when we do see those small little cracks in her silences and her expressions, they speak immense volumes. People in real life don't often have an array of extreme dramatic moments, it's those little silences when you're alone that fill the room with such emptiness and misery, and as Akerman bleeds in little pieces of backstory here and there, we really begin to see the full picture of what this woman's existence is like, and has been like for so many years. The life that she has resigned herself to have.

There's no need ever for any kind of exposition, nothing to pander to the audience with for even a moment. Akerman trusts her audience completely, and it's such a breath of fresh air to see and experience. Delphine Seyrig's absolutely phenomenal performance is crucial in rooting us so thoroughly into this character, and allowing us to really begin to feel the weight of every moment with her. Of course, all of that patience, all of that time and effort that Akerman and the viewer put into this experience, then pays off at the end with a moment so jarring and explosive that it'll stick with you for days, weeks, even longer. The kind of act that so many movies have made feel commonplace to the point of disinterest, where it can happen and not even engage you in any way, but Jeanne Dielman makes you feel it in a way that perhaps no other movie has been able to achieve. This film is a truly rare and masterful accomplishment.

Mitchell liked these reviews