Special Classic

Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)

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We truly live in times of momentus upheaval and seismic change, as the Sight & Sound Top 100 Best Films now has a new #1 after the likes of Hitchcock and Welles reigned supreme for decades. Now Chantal Akerman’s contemplative slice of life meditation of the mundane tops this list compiled by film critics and directors from across the globe every ten years. Akerman was just 25 years old when she set out to chronicle the monotone life of a Brussels mother and widowed housewife, working with an almost entirely female crew. The lengthy (200 minutes) film spans three days in the life of Jeanne, minutely framing her chores and hobbies in real time, intersected with gentleman callers that drop by for paid pleasures. A film that requires a determined mindset but rewards the persistent viewer with a truly unique cinematic experience. The film returns to our screens only twice, so make sure you catch it. French language with English subtitles.

Credits

Regie
Chantal Akerman
Cast
Delphine Seyrig, Jan Decorte, Henri Storck
Genre
Drama
Speelduur
202 minuten
Land
België. Frankrijk
Taal
Frans
Ondertiteling
Engels

Storyline

Jeanne Dielman (Delphine Seyrig), the widowed mother of a teenage son, Sylvain (Jan Decorte), ekes out a drab, repetitive existence in her tiny Brussels apartment. Jeanne’s days are divided between humdrum domestic chores — shopping, cooking, housework — and her job as an occasional prostitute, which keeps her financially afloat. She seems perfectly resigned to her situation until a series of slight interruptions in her routine leads to unexpected and dramatic changes.