Monday, February 2, 2009

Jeanne Dielman

Last week I had a chance to see the movie "Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)". I could talk about this movie for hours. It was such a unique experience.

You are witnessing three crucial days in the life of Jeanne Dielman (Jeanne Dielman played by the amazing Delphine Seyrig). For 201 minutes (yes over three hours) you watch this single mother who is an efficient homemaker and discreet, one-client-a day prostitute perform her daily routines. I should add until the end you see nothing of her prostitution work. In the course of these three days you are basically following her around as she is cooking potatoes, cleaning the apartment and goes out shopping for groceries.... There is virtually no dialogue. She only talks when she has to. I love how intimate this film is. It's hard to explain, it's not like you get sucked into the movie it's more like you are a voyeur watching from the outside. You get so used to her personality and habits that you pick up on all the subtleties and changes. For instance she never leaves a room without switching off the lights, she always wears the same cardigan while in the apartment. I thought for sure I would get bored with a movie that is so mundane and so long but I never did. You do have to be in the right mood and can't be in a hurry to make it through this movie. The ironic thing is you probably would get bored if you did not pay close attention to all the details, only then can you follow the narrative properly and question the end. Anyway, I highly recommend this movie.

Here's a clip from the movie.... yes boring out of context but still watch the subtleties of this scene.

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