SidneyLumetSuxx’s review published on Letterboxd:
FLICK TWO OF WEEK OF CHANTAL
Holy effin' heck.
This is one dense, immersive, vigorous piece of work. Books could be written about the power of this film, and they should, but I'll do my best to keep my comments and thoughts brief as I can personally make them.
Chantal Akerman has actually been an inspiration to me as an amateur filmmaker long before I even saw a single film of hers. What I had heard and read about her was enough. The “mundane” has always been something that interested me and not in the sense that "boredom" is fascinating, which it kinda is, but in the sense that nothing is "boring", that nothing is "mundane". Because I feel like everything's worth paying attention to; that there's infinity in the finite. So, initially, I thought Jeanne Dielman was going to be something along those lines.
That wasn't Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai Du Commerce 1080 Brussells.
That expectation was shot down almost immediately. Something darker was clearly lurking and underlining everything.
The film without a doubt consists of a widowed mother engaging in her daily routine. Surely. For three hours it's her doing all the cleaning and cooking and dishes and errands and laundry and shopping and all the et cetera. She's responsible for the maintenance and presentation of the entire house; it must always be clean and tidy. It's not just showing her doing these things just to show her doing these things, though. It goes well beyond that. It's berating the role of the Woman At Home during the 1970s.
Growing up, my brother and I always had to do our part. It wasn't all on my mom. We always had to:
1) Do the dishes
2) Finish all the wood in the house
3) Make our beds every morning
4) Mow the lawn
5) Pull weeds outside
6) Rake leaves outside
7) Vacuum our rooms and the basement
8) Windex all the glass in the house
Jeanne Dielman does all those things. She lays out her teenage son's clothes before he wakes up for school, fixes him breakfast, and makes his bed once he leaves. When he comes home she greets him at the door and takes his coat and has the dinner table and food already set up. But why? Why she gotta do it all by herself? Yeah, married women's husbands were at work all day but at the very least was it really so hard to ask that they pick their own clothes out in the morning? That they make their own beds? That they assist with dishes after their wives had been runnin' around town and bustin' their backs cleaning the place all day? How could they not realize this could be incredibly unhealthy for their wives and for their relationships with them?
Should Jeanne be vindicated for her actions at the end of the film? Of course not. But it's astonishingly difficult to neither empathize or sympathize where she's coming from and how she must feel. The film's minimalistic style and 200-minute runtime is totally justified because it attempts to communicate the overwhelming burden many women experienced for a very long time. I almost felt like what it must be like to be a woman in the '70s (and long before then).
Thank God women in 2017 are no longer REQUIRED to live like this – and I'm only hitting the surface here, I'm only unpacking one element. There's much more that I would love to say and get into but this review has gone on long enough, don't you think? Plus this is a review, not an analysis.
Anyway. Just watch this flick. It's earned its honor of being called one of the great films of all-time.