Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

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

So many things to say for a film that appears on the surface not to say much

I had to break this up into two and I believe it didn’t negate from my experience. I have so much to praise this film for. I appreciate what Akerman has done here but it was not easy to finish. 

This film as calm as it appeared had left me very tense and uneasy from the beginning. This was not because of the slow-burning tension created in the atmosphere of the film. It was the fact that Akerman positions us in the perspective of a voyeur, a peeping Tom and it feels wrong observing Jeanne doing errands and chores as these moments aren’t familiar to us in film. It's real life. It’s as if we hope that something tragic could happen to make us feel something that is not guilt. We want to witness something drastic because we have been conditioned that this is what should happen in films.

Akerman creates an atmosphere where many of the ‘minor’ events are riveting. It’s a pessimistic view on the world with mostly superficial interactions. By exploring loneliness through Jeanne who is quiet and reserved, we can empathise with and understand the significance of routines in our own lives. She is simply a listener whose personality does not stand out and that was frustrating at times but intentionally so.

I actually felt very relaxed after having settled in but the runtime was very noticeable close to the halfway mark. Moments became dull and tedious and sometimes without justification. I believe the dialogue itself at certain instances was flawed with certain exchanges feeling peculiar as it did not feel it matched the nature of the film. I guess I found myself also wanting the tension built to last as I felt quite numb and nonchalant when witnessing the twist in the end. 

Nevertheless I value and respect Akerman. With this film presenting the day to day inequalities and inconveniences experienced by Jeanne, it is essential viewing and has a degree of relatability for most. It would not have had the impact it did with a drastically shorter runtime.

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