Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

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

"Your hair's a mess."
"I cooked the potatoes too long."

When this was introduced, we (the audience) were told that if we feel bored, that's entirely by design. I see what he (the presenter) was getting at, and I'm sure he's completely correct, but I can't say that I ever felt bored while watching this. Certainly not bored in the way that doing the very activities depicted onscreen (cleaning dishes, making beds, having liaisons with strange and unappealing men) make me feel. A character like this, played with as much subtlety as Delphine Seyrig gives her, presented in this way could not be boring.

There's repetition, monotony, tedium, yes, but there's so much to take in. There is purpose and, dare I say, urgency to everything shown. The feminist political ideas present are responsible for some of this urgency, but so is the formal radicalism. This is an incredibly tightly constructed piece of work, and the structure and mise-en-scène and sound design drive everything forward even as we seem to be standing still.

As the movie played, I kept thinking about a more contemporary pop culture touchstone: Marge Simpson. It would be quite a thing if someone were to animate Marge Simpson, 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield as a shot-for-shot remake of this.

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