Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for Jeanne Dielman, 6 April 2009
This review is from: Chantal Akerman Collection ( Hôtel Monterey,Je, tu, il, elle,Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles,Briefe von zu Haus,Les Rendez-vous d'Anna ) [English subtitles] [DVD] (DVD)
I've only seen `Jeanne Dielman' and `Le Captive' but both films left me with a feeling of profound respect for what I consider to be a very talented film maker. I hope the rest of Ackerman's work displays the same credentials (although I'm not sure about `A Couch in New York'). This box set is very expensive but appears to contain Ackerman's hyper realist films like `Jeanne Dielman' which is, for me, and astounding examination of the mundane everyday activities of an urban woman living in late 1970s Brussels. And it is this "suburban" framework that provides the narrative progression in what appears on the surface to be a filmed succession of boring, repetitive, irritating domestic rituals. Then we have the end of the second day, an interval, then more of the same but with a difference. For Ackerman slowing and patiently starts to construct some subtle changes to Jeanne's routine (e.g. over cooking potatoes, not putting the lid on the pot), which has the cumulative effect of introducing a sense of foreboding, or put another way, an atmosphere tense with Jeanne's repressed emotion. For me Jeanne's emotional detachment from almost everything is symptomatic of a form of brainwashing created by a lifestyle seemingly devoid of fun and happiness. The mother appears as some form of automaton whose sole purpose is to satisfy the needs of others at the expense of the self. Interestingly Jeanne appears to have no need for a meaningful relationship with another person. I don't think Jeanne's son (her only significant "relationship") can be classified as an empathetic, particularly loving individual. Their conversations are made up of small talk and maternal instructions. He is the geeky teenager, conditioned by his mother's routine and dependent on her financial support. Money that is earned within the confines of Jeanne's bedroom (the towel spread on top of the bed's counterpane sums up Jeanne Dielman's almost objective approach to her existence). An existence that is put to its severest test in the last five minutes of the film: a truly magnificent piece of cinema and an example of Delphine Seyrig's exceptional acting abilities. One of my highlights (and there are many) was watching Jeanne making veal schnitzel which would not have been out of place on a TV cookery show.
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