Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

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

Watching Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles is quite an experience. It lingers between boredom and hypnotic enchantment. Despite so much made of its adherence to reality, Jeanne Dielman is distinctly unreal. Working backwards from its final event, we can see the film as always leading towards to it. As the strict routine of the titular lead is slowly broken, things begin to change in small ways. For a film about almost nothing, it is surprisingly plot heavy in a strange way. The plot may just be that the potatoes are overcooked, a clean spoon is dropped, a button is missing, but these tiniest of events shape a subtle unraveling that leads to an unprovoked event that feels like self-defence. It does have a story, one about a system that gets worn down. It just doesn't do what cinema is meant to do. Cinema isn't meant to be this obvious in its presentation and this unclear in its meaning. The lead character is given space to be themselves in this film, able to use the space onscreen to move and act freely. She cooks, cleans, eats, and is always presented as the centre of the action. It's a tribute to mothers everywhere, giving dignity and respect to the mundane aspects of life that we all rely upon. Most rely upon their mothers on some point, and Jeanne Dielman is a representation of what we often forget about: the lives of our mothers. In that way, and many others, Jeanne Dielman is perhaps the ultimate feminist film. It's an ode to life and motherhood, and made with boldness and subtly.

My Top Films of the 1970s

Darren liked these reviews