Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

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

'Suffocating' would be an apt word to describe this film. A three and a half hour film where the first half is spent establishing a routine in a steady measured manner only to have it unravel at an excruciatingly slow pace, leaving Jeanne — and us — spiralling down a dark path.

The framing for the most part is so tight and closed in that it leaves no room to breathe. The walls close in on us and when there are no walls, the furnitures assume that role. In fact when the film cuts to the wider shots of the outside world it comes as a breath of fresh air, acting as a reprieve for both Jeanne and the audience from the captivity of the house.

These safe places however don't remain so for long. Akerman constantly disrupts the familiar by switching shots, providing us with a different point of view that introduces us to something as slight as a new perspective to the unfolding of the events or, as it is often employed particularly in the latter half of the film, as a tool to constantly disorientate and defamiliarise the audience.

In fact, I'd argue that one wouldn't be remiss to call this film a horror film. It even got to a point where I was literally clawing at my throat due to overwhelming anxiety (the coffee scene). Truly the most distressing film I've seen in recent memory.