Friday, November 16, 2007

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles d. Chantal Akerman, 1976

A brutal film. Jeanne Dielman is a woman whose life is regimented to the point of absurdity; she is reduced entirely to her actions. The film is cut up into three days. During the first day, the camera almost always cuts on movement, from one set-up to another, a bastion of economy. Because of this, there is no room in Jeanne's movements for anything other than specific actions. Everything she does can be tersely described: boiling potatoes, reading a letter, turning on the radio. There is no liminal space, no transitions. Her being is defined by sum aggregate of what she definably does. Therefore, when her regiment begins to break down, so does Jeanne. I won't say any more: the film deserves the type of detailed analysis that I'm not capable of right now. Suffice it to say that this is a very affecting film about the consequences of extreme emotional conservativism and the perils of a solitary, segmented life.


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