Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles ★★★★½

I started Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles thinking that I'd respect the hell out of it but never particularly enjoy it, and while I was somewhat correct, I was way more wrapped up in this than I kind of expected. I put it on with the idea that I'd watch the first 20 minutes attentively to get a feel for the rhythm and tone of this and then just leave it on as I do other stuff, tuning in and out every so often. However, after I watched the first 20 minutes, I was entranced, I couldn't take my eyes off it; and before I knew it I'd been sat there for hours, hypnotised by a woman performing the most mundane of household chores.

Chantal Akerman uses the camera as a mirror, to reflect our society onto the screen, and watching it all from this outsiders perspective makes it so much more profound. The use of hypnotism makes sure that, as long as you pay attention, for what it is, to me it is never slow and rarely boring. However, when it does become boring, in the moments when you come to a realisation of what you're actually watching, Akerman uses it as a technique to heighten the message of the film.

My biggest, and only real criticism of this would be the ending. Which is anticlimactic at best, and absolutely laughable at worst. Maybe there was some greater intention behind it that I have not looked into enough to understand, but I doubt that. Delphine Seyrig gives one of the best performances of all time, there is no doubt about that; but in one of the final scenes, without spoiling anything, another actor gives maybe one of the worst performances I've ever seen. While brief, this is inexcusable in such a crucial scene, the entire film felt like it was building to that. Don't take this the wrong way, as there is so much more to be appreciated in Jeanne Dielman than this scene and the build to it, and I am so glad that I watched it at last, but for a brief moment in time, it did make me question whether or not the previous 3 hours and 20 minutes were actually worth it.

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