Timminy’s review published on Letterboxd:
Alright, first of all, this is obviously a monumental achievement in cinema. It's so intelligent, self-assured and purposeful that I feel honored to have watched it.
The most inspiring thing Akerman does in this film is that she creates a genuinely satisfying experience. The movie is over 3 hours and mostly contains scenes of chores. But Akerman still understands what we want in a movie regardless, she knows that audiences want to be thrilled, shocked, inspired... So she finds ways of engaging with you through entirely non-conventional means. The movie eventually turns into a sort-of backwards thriller where the drama is not life with "the boring parts cut out" like Hitchcock famously said, but rather with the boring parts in. I think this is the main reason this film remains a go-to reference point for filmmakers, from the amateurs to the world-renowned ones, Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles remains a massive inspiration everywhere.
However, many aspiring filmmakers miss this key element. The idea that experimental films should actually excite viewers. Jeanne Dielman and My Dinner With Andre are oft-cited proof that you can "make movies about nothing". A perfect rebuttal to criticism of one's work is "it was supposed to be about nothing". But we all know this is nothing more than a cop-out. The beautiful thing about such films is that they appear to be about nothing, but are in fact about things which are often far more significant than the subjects of larger budget films. Calling Jeanne Dielman a film "where nothing happens", completely misses the point of the movie. The point is that quite a lot happens. This is the character's whole life. It forces the audience to question how a society could create such a life for a person. It is distinctly feminist in its moral, but also fundamentally questions modern living as a whole.
"Why do we live like this?" is all I'm left with after the credits roll.