Sunday, October 18, 2009

Jeanne Dielman slowly peels away at patriarchy in 23 Quai du Commerce

Posted By on Sun, Oct 18, 2009 at 3:00 PM

click to enlarge Delphine Seyrig as Jeanne Dielman
  • Delphine Seyrig as Jeanne Dielman

As a general rule, films are supposed to compress time. If a woman buys a bag of brown potatoes at the store and later scoops a few soft, white potatoes out of a pot of water, it will be understood that in between those two shots she peeled and boiled potatoes. What makes Chantal Ackerman’s 1975 film Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles classic is that it doesn’t compress time, at least not in the way we’ve come to expect. Jeanne peels that bag of potatoes one strip at a time, taking care to cut out the eyes, soak them in water, and light the stove. It’s a technique that can elicit boredom and frustration, which happens to be what Jeanne feels, too.

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(Image courtesy Paradise Films)

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