Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

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

Fe(MAY)le Directors Challenge: 24/30

Every once in a while you watch a film that shakes up what you think a film can do. I knew that this was going to be a slow and contemplative movie, but the reality of the monotony and detail presented really forced me to change how I addressed a typical narrative film. The first third of the movie is so rhythmic and so slow that it lulls you into an almost meditative state as you watch a woman ritually perform the hyper-planned activities that fill her life. This state is suddenly disrupted after an unseen sexual encounter and you are so in-tune to the previous rhythm by the tiniest changes (a lid not being put back on a pot, a light being left on) add to a sense of unease and provide a window into the character.

As time goes on, Delphine Seyrig's character performs a master-class of subtle physical acting that sells the deterioration of somebody's mental state. Each difference or mistake builds a sense of tension that I would never expect from a movie where so little actually happens.

I found the movie had a lot to say about a wide variety of issues. The rituals of daily life that we impose in ourselves, the performing of certain actions to maintain face in a modern society, and the marginalization of women's work are all addressed, but I really want to watch this again to pick some of the detail I know is there.

This is not an easy movie to watch, especially with all the distractions of watching at home. However, I highly recommend trying get through the movie. There are also some fantastic special features streaming on the Criterion Channel at the moment.

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