Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles 

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Chantal Akerman's greatest film--made in 1975 and running 198 minutes--is one of those lucid puzzlers that may drive you up the wall but will keep you thinking for days or weeks. Delphine Seyrig, in one of her greatest performances, plays Jeanne Dielman, a Belgian woman obsessed with performing daily rounds of housework and other routines (including occasional prostitution) in the flat she occupies with her teenage son. The film follows three days in Dielman's regulated life, and Akerman's intense concentration on her daily activities--monumentalized by Babette Mangolte's superb cinematography and mainly frontal camera setups--eventually sensitizes us to the small ways in which her system is breaking down. By placing so much emphasis on aspects of life and work that other films routinely omit, mystify, or skirt over, Akerman forges a major statement, not only in a feminist context but also in a way that tells us something about the lives we all live. In French with subtitles. Univ. of Chicago Doc Films.

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