Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

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

Almost miraculous: a film that can provoke a slight gasp or an alerted lean-in towards the screen, not from the usual dramatic gestures or big external events, but from what the protagonist's family or neighbors would perceive merely as everyday human error. Only thing is, this woman doesn't do human error. The director's strict compositions and Seyrig's exacting performance combine to create a claustraphobic effect, a feeling that she holds on tightly to these robotic routines as a way to prevent falling apart. Thus, each stumble or mistake in the carefully regulated household work almost sends a chill up the spine, as a recognition that something potentially catastrophic must be coming. And the long real-time intervals we spend with her make each of the cracks more pronounced, while still adhering resolutely to realism. I don't know though if it's necessary for the length to be this much, but at least it's (increasingly) engrossing nonetheless.

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