Quick-Thoughts: Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles (1975)

Depressing and therapeutic cinema. What a combo… 

Watching this movie at 1:00am right after finishing up a 7 hour drive is a whole other f**king feeling, fellas. Chantal Akerman’s cult classic is such a ruthless and trailblazing affair for the art because what it’s essentially doing <for both halves> is conditioning you into the mundane repetition of a widow and mother’s lifestyle so that even the most slight of offset, like a new conversation for which breaks the majority runtiming of routine events, suddenly becomes fascinating and meaningful to you despite what their irrelevancy would mean in a more sensationalized or common cinematic narrative, and <for the second half> additionally reminds you of how sensitive our peace in these rituals can be due to the unwanted yet inevitable disruptions that always come naturally attached, like any accidental pause to them from human imperfections within our order for uninterrupted control. And… that’s pretty special, considering few movies are able to lock its viewer like this one does into the forced position of a character’s world and their means to look forward while in confinement — obliging only to even the most dismally selfless chores seen often in the two main patriarchal expectations of a woman — or to look backwards as their numbness retracts from either minor failures or changes in their routine, further blundering up the day or days to come. 

There’s a curiosity factor to this too though, one where as we see these minute changes happen, we’re forced to wonder what’s going on inside Jeanne’s mind after experiencing and being inspired by them, and moreover what she could possibly be thinking of to counteract this slight slight loss of diligence and exploration for alteration during her third day of the three that are shown. We’re only left to assume from their gestures when it comes to people who are latently and socially taught to always act like a stranger, which may be the most relatable factor I got out of this challenging film. It reminded me a bit of my grandmother to be honest with you, and… it makes perfect sense given the time period she lived in. When this is possibly it for the rest of your life, who can really blame someone for breaking every once in a while, if not, breaking completely? Who in their right mind (ironically) wouldn’t go nuts from time to time? How can we possibly continue to live perfectly in the never-ending circle if we’re able to see glimpses outside of it every so often?

Verdict: B+

“Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel.

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