Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

Review @ Slant

In the recurring shots of Jeanne greeting her outpatients, she is framed so that her head is cut off at the top and only her torso is visible (representative, perhaps, of the first thing men see when they look at a woman)…

…there’s a sharp cut between Jeanne in different locations (perhaps to show how Jeanne seems to be fighting to be in two places at once).

“…the only obliquely shot frames in the whole film correlate with Jeanne’s clients”

The most amazing commodity of Jeanne Dielman is how ingeniously Akerman manages to have each isolated gesture and action performed by Jeanne unmistakable in its intended diegetic meaning, and yet she sculpts the aggregated details of the film as a whole into one big question mark.

Review @ Strictly Film School

Notes:

1) can we compare this work with Camus’s “The Stranger”? Possibly, yes. But, the connection is slight. Here repressed frustration comes out in the form of instantaneous act of violence, which is not the case, I believe, in The Stranger, where the protagonist does not harbor repressed feelings.

2) This plot starts a day before the slide. The slide is not dramatic, but comes out in the protagonist’s small gestures.

3) The protagonist, in the end, is in a trance where she has not yet realized the enormity of her actions. She is still in a floating in the release of frustration ensued from her actions. We can only imagine the probably terrible moment when the protagonist will click out of her trance into reality with the turn of the key when her son comes in at the end of the day, which the plot does not extend to, as, obviously, that wasn’t the main concern of the film.

4) Akerman’s framing is very classical and symmetric denoting the protagonist’s prim-and-proper work ethic and behavior. Though, it remains the same even during the protagonist’s apparent descent.

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