manav’s review published on Letterboxd:
I haven't seen a film like this at all, it's a feminist masterpiece in every way. It changes the way you watch and interpret movies. It's a film that is very routine but absolutely riveting to watch. I knew nothing about this film going in, I got it recommended from BeKindRewind's Youtube video on Mrs. America. This is a movie that deals with the theme of domesticity. There isn't much dialogue in the film, but every time someone speaks there's a weight to it. Nothing goes on, but I wasn’t bored for a second.
The shots of this film are very static, where every sound is routinely played out, where we know what is going on from each and every sound today. When you see the character of Jeanne Dielman (Delphine Seyrig) do something different in one of her days, you can feel that something is going to happen. You're so invested in this film where you just feel the pain every little thing Jeanne does. It's such a unique film I've never seen anything like it. Jeanne is always in constant motion, everything she does is this series of tasks. As the film progresses, you can feel Jeanne increasingly becoming frustrated but not in this showy cinematic way, in this subtle way with how each and every routined sound feels different, and all those subtleties Seyrig nails. All the takes are long and static, the camera never moves. It makes the tasks almost frustrating because of how repetitive it is. When her routined life changes, you can feel her spiral when all these things in her life change.
The best actors/actresses are ones who make scenes such as sitting in a chair riveting to watch. Delphine Seyrig basically does that the whole movie, how each and every routined sound slightly changes to show how frantic she is. You can see the emptiness in her character, you can't really get a read on her. She doesn't do anything special, she wakes up, cleans, cooks, does groceries, chats with her son, and goes to bed and repeats the next day. We watch from start to finish carry out her day when these little things break her cycle which causes her to snap. Watching this is like watching a time-bomb, where all the takes are long and static, and gives meaning to what a housewife does, everything she does has meaning to it. You feel immersed in every detail of Jeanne's world.
Director Chantal Ackerman constructed an incredible film that makes you feel the overall routine of the film, the overall mise-en-scene, and composition of the film almost trains you to feel the mundanity of the film where the smallest gestures (whether it's a different sound or a subtle look or movement of the character of Jeanne) become the films most dramatic parts. I've never seen a film that makes tiny visual movements or sounds that hit you so hard. It's one of the most interesting experiences I've ever had while watching a film and really changed how I interpret films.