Classic Film Review: Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai Du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)

So tonight, as preparation for listening to the upcoming episode of Sardonicast about this movie, I watched the Belgian film Jeanne Deilman, 23, Quai Du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

This film tells the story of the titular Jeanne over three days. It shows her day to day activities, as well as her exploits as a prostitute.

This is probably the most challenging movie I have ever watched. It’s absolutely bizarre, but strangely hypnotic. This director, Chantal Akerman, has fucking balls to be releasing a movie so long and dull but managing to make a decent point with it.

On one hand, like I said, this film is FUCKING BORING. 98% of this movie is static shots of a woman doing household chores, killing time, running errands, and eating. There is no music, barely any cuts (it only cuts when it either shows her entering another room, or transitioning to the next plot point [I use the term plot point a tad liberally]), and here’s the kicker, IT’S THREE AND A HALF HOURS LONG. I was close to nodding off in areas, like holy shit.

But on the other hand…there’s something interesting hiding underneath it all. A very interesting discussion can be had about women’s issues such as sex work, single motherhood, and mother-son relationships. It was very subtle, and the untrained movie goer wouldn’t pick up on it, but the sparse and strange interactions between Jeanne and her son, and only the vague implications of what was going on behind closed doors with the John (at least until the end), were very telling of the state of affairs she was in. To top it all off, she pays it off in the end.

Overall, I would ultimately say if she shaved about an hour or more off of this movie so it would be, maybe, an hour fourty to two hours, this would be a good movie, possibly even a great one. But as this three hour monolith, it’s obtuse and boring. If you wanna brave this film and see if you get something out of it that I didn’t, go right ahead. But this film is most certainly not for everyone.

5.5 out of 10 (I don’t know what else to give it)

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