Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

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

Film Resolution #7

I knew only two things going into this film:
#1. It is long.
#2. She makes a meatloaf.

3 days in the life of Jeanne Dielman truncated into a little over 3 hours. 1 hour representing one day, in which, the action consists of the monotonous ritual of daily living - washing the dishes, preparing meals, folding clothes and running errands. essentially my life, save for the intermittent sex for cash part. the film also contains three characters, Jeanne Dielman, her son Sylvain, and the apartment in which they reside, which also plays an important part in the film (as much so as Jeanne herself). The rooms of the apartment have just about as much screen time as Jeanne which made me wonder is this Jeanne's story set in an apartment or the apartment's story which happens to have Jeanne Dielman as a supporting character. Hell, she even has to work around the camera at times.

I say that because the camera lingers in rooms for seconds as Jeanne wanders in and out of them. The same can be said when Jeanne ventures outside to run her errands - she's merely passing through life completing a series of objectives. The viewer examines her life while Jeanne never seems to have the time examine it herself. That is, until the third and final day.

Everything seemly goes perfectly smooth throughout the first and second day. It's not until the third day when things get a little rough, for Jeanne and for the viewer as well. Like when she's shining Sylvain's shoes again (like everyday), I thought "Damn it I have to watch her shine those shoes again." Which is probably what Jeanne was thinking after she dropped the brush on the floor. Which speaks volumes to the reasoning behind showing all of these mundane events in seemingly real-time - to highlight the monotonous and frustrating trivialities one must do day-in, day-out. Add to the fact that no one really appreciates what Jeanne is doing, maybe not even the viewer.

After having a bad day, the film ends with a visit from one of her clients, which results in the most boring sex scene ever. I honestly thought the man was sleep for the better part of the duration. Afterwards, and for the first time, Jeanne sits in front of her mirror examining herself and her life, perhaps. Judging by her subsequent actions, she did not like what she found.

The main highlight, cinematic-wise, is Akerman's use of static camera shots may, quite possibly, be the best use of this technique I've seen (I wish Haneke would take notes). Though the camera never moves, the shots are artfully framed creating a feeling of watching an animated still life painting of the domestic variety. Akerman takes the idea of Neorealism and turns it into uber-realism and does so with great effect.

This film did create a giant mystery for me. What is the strobing blue light radiating into Jeanne's dining room?

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