Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

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

A harrowing portrait of OCD and a scathing document of the infinite load-bearing that is automatically inflicted upon women, this slow cinema landmark details the routine of a widow who entertains johns in her apartment while maintaining domestic tranquility for her son and her own sanity, which begins to slip after a few trivial but cumulatively distressing breaks from normalcy. This is a brilliant movie even if its finale lays things out a little too clearly to be congruous with the first three hours, but despite Chantal Akerman's goal of a bodily, involuntary reaction to all of the painstaking repetition and minutiae -- Rooney Mara eating a pie has nothing on Delphine Seyrig prepping a meat loaf -- for me the full expanse of the thing doesn't reveal much that you wouldn't get from a more condensed version of the narrative, or from various critics or the director herself describing the whole idea to you. That's really because I'm a tough crowd on long movies, especially those that are this experimental; much of this was still hypnotic and terrifying, but it's nevertheless more interesting to think or read about than to actually watch.

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