Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

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

At least now I know where Bella Tarr got the idea for The Turin Horse. It wasn’t Nietzsche.

Like Turn Horse, Jeanne Dielman is segmented by days, shows us the mundane tasks that are repeated each day.. in real time, and shows progressive degeneration. Unlike Turin Horse, Jeanne is 4 days shorter .. don’t get your hopes up here, the running time is LONGER. A bladder busting 201 minutes. Also unlike Turin Horse Jeanne Dielman is a remarkably easy watch ( helpful hint .. take a refreshment break at the end of each day )

I love this type of film, as it demands interpretation. I’ve just finished watching it, so, ideas are still flying around in my head, and I’m not yet ready to express them. Much like The Turin Horse, I may not be ready until after I’ve re-watched.

One thing that I did find interesting is that in films this abstract everything is up for grabs. I’ve seen all kinds of interpretations of 2001 where people mention the three and a half minute black segment at the beginning of the film, and tie this segment into their personal interpretation. I know for a fact that Mr. Kubrick did not intend this, but, because the film is so abstract, people with imagination look at every facet, even if it wasn’t intentional. I love that.

In the case of Jeanne Dielman, both my wife and I noticed the ‘disappearing / reappearing’ kitchen chair. IMDB lists it as a continuity error. There isn’t any mention of it in my brief perusal of the Interwebs after watching. The one thing I found, however, is that director Chantal Akerman didn’t pick her crew, and she obliquely hinted that most were incompetent, and the shoot was difficult. Doesn’t matter to me. I claim it, and it is a central construct of my evolving interpretation.

What isn’t up for interpretation is Delphine Seyrig’s performance. It is natural, it is perfect. She literally carries this film all by herself, as it is in essence a one hander. Another thing that isn’t up for interpretation is Chantal Akerman’s writing and direction. This was her second feature, and she created it when she was 25. Wow. I will definitely be checking out her filmography.

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