Graham’s review published on Letterboxd:
About an hour and a half into Jeanne Dielman I was wondering if I'd clicked on the wrong movie. Ninety minutes of almost zero dialogue and watching a housewife do chores around the house. Washing, making the beds, preparing meals and going to the post office. If I'd sat in the kitchen I could have watched my wife do this, I thought (I'm kidding! Blimey, calm down).
At first pass it's kinda mind-numbing and not at all what I was hoping for. Many films would have already had their beginning, middle and end by now yet Jeanne is still brushing her teeth.
It's a very well executed piece, with all the technical stuff being really well done. For something so slow by nature, some of the static camera shots are brilliant. Watching Jeanne move in and out of frame rather than being tracked around the room made it way more interesting to watch, which is good as there is a LOT to watch. Often directors 'skip' the details and focus on the main events of a story. Here, Akerman reverses that with the mundanery of the moment becoming the main event... if you want to know how to make a meatloaf from scratch, watch this. I'm not kidding.
Delphine Seyrig performed the lead role wonderfully well and really held onto me whenever she was on screen (which is most of the time). Then, in one moment as Jeanne was walking down the beige street full of beige cars, in her beige coat and going into beige shops full of beige people dressed in their finest beige, it struck me. That's the whole point. Life can be mundane. It's routine, boring and dull and can drive us to do things that are entirely out of character when our monotony is disrupted.
Oh. now she's peeling beige potatoes in her beige house in beige water waiting for her beige son to come home. To be served, like a little lord. He does nothing. Absolutely nothing to help, and Jeanne continues to support the behavior like a lonely housewife whose only joy is in being maid to this lazy little shite. Sheesh. Having said all that, I'm now feeling really invested in Jeanne's life. It matters. I want to keep being a part of it.
At the wonderfully complex finale, I felt myself exhale knowing that this will be the last time I see Jeanne for a while. This film felt like an eternity and yet, the ending crept up on me when I wasn't expecting it and suddenly, it was over.
Jeanne Dielman is not for the faint hearted and really requires quite a bit of patience. The pace at which it operates had me reaching for my watch more than once and yet, it still really struck a chord. The reality of a lonely life yearning for more and getting whatever little piece of joy it can, from wherever it can is really quite lovely to watch.
Now. Meatloaf. I can do this!