Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

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

100

“And when the tiny plane landed, it sounded like my camera rewinding. I thought, this is just a picture.”

Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles ends with the same sort of shot as is sprinkled throughout the film. Not with some gigantic gesture or with a sweeping musical motif, but with the camera focusing on the title character sitting at a table reflecting. She is now sitting there in devastating silence, letting the rest of the film hang there like a man standing at the edge of the Golden Gate Bridge. And as I stated at this lady, it occurred to me that only one quote in the history of quotes was sticking out to me. That of a poem by Eileen Myles, the same that I mentioned at the top of this review. Partly because after taking a three and a half hour ride with these gorgeous members of the cast and crew, I saw lights flashing in the windows and realized they were not unlike the flashing of old film upon a silver screen. And after hours and hours of being wrapped up in the life of this woman, the image of flashing lights was strangely all that I needed for a cool down. It was what reminded me that it’s all just a picture. But oh my goodness, what a picture it is.

This had been on my watchlist for as long as I can remember, but I had been deliberately scooting around Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles for, I feel like, obvious reasons. As of the time that I viewed it it was the longest movie in my watchlist (The Godfather Part II and The Irishman may have been longer, I’m not sure. I feel as though I’m missing one), and I mentioned in my review of the former that I can only handle so many long movies at once, mostly because I rarely feel as though the length is necessary and so I end up bored for a considerable amount of the film. And learning how little of a plot there was to it, Letterboxd simply promises a housewife doing her daily chores for three days and to be fair that’s basically it, I had reason to assume I would be disappointed by the film, even if I had heard outstanding things about it from several people that I trust. And maybe I would have been disappointed by it if Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles wasn’t one of the best damn movies I’ve ever seen. In terms of first viewings, this is the most I’ve loved a film since Mulholland Drive, which...you know, we all know how that turned out. Looking at my list of favorites I can see how this is the least accessible by far and thus the most controversial pick among some of my friends, colleagues and readers, though there are clear exceptions in both categories. Thus I’m not at all going to pretend as though this is a film for everybody. It seems as though it should be a film for very few. But those who can fully enjoy it are a lucky set indeed.