Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

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

How could you know? You’re not a woman

I desperately wanted to kick 2019 off with this film. I’ve heard about it for years, I’ve owned it for months, and it seemed like just the film experiment I wanted to begin this next chapter in moviegoing with.

First and foremost, I love that it exists. It is a test in every sense of the word, and for that I’m very grateful; even though it took me three sittings to get through. I really wanted to give it my all and power through in one go, but it is absolutely brutal. Once you’re able to open yourself up to it and really take in what it’s giving and appreciate what it’s doing, it’s an incredible film experience, but that’s a 90-minute uphill walk. It’s a tough nut to crack, to put it mildly. It obviously would’ve been much easier to get through had there been more characterization or dialogue in the beginning to really get us acquainted with Jeanne, but that’s not the point of the film, and doing that would’ve lessened the overall power. That isn’t what the movie is meant to do; the best thing you can do is accept that and just sit and let it all wash over you.

The power of it all comes from the routine, and once that routine begins to change, you feel it. It’s the simplest things—the messed up potatoes, dropping the brush—but they make your heart drop. You scramble to try and correct it, just as she does; the viewer needing to reach into the film is the point of it all, and isn’t that, in essence, the best thing a film can do?