When I decide on the Blind Spot picks for each year I try to have a variety of favorites- critical darlings, arthouse films, cult classics, box office winners etc. This month’s pick, Jeanne Dielman, 23… is definitely of the arthouse variety but it became a point of conversation last year when it ended up at the top of the list in the recent Sight and Sound Great Movies poll. Because I never attended film school, I admit I had never heard of this film before the poll and was shocked to see it make number one. Now I have seen it, and I still don’t understand it! Let’s talk about it:
Jeanne Dielman, 23… is a slice of life type film that tells the story of a woman named Jeanne who is a bored and unhappy housewife who makes money on the side as a prostitute. Most of the movie is watching her perform basic household tasks like polishing shoes and peeling potatoes. For a 3 hr 20 m movie very little happens although Delphine Seyrig does a very good job portraying Jeanne in some long and uncomfortable takes.
I happen to like watching people cook so I actually enjoyed those sections. You do start to see little differences between day 1 and day 2 of her daily activities. It all leads to some violence at the end but even that is treated by director Chantal Akerman with a sense of ordinariness.
When it came out in 1975, Jeanne Dielman, 23… might have seen more groundbreaking but I’m honestly tired of this disturbed/stifled housewife being one of the only ways Hollywood depicts contemporary women. Does it happen? Sure but there are also lots of women who chose to stay-at-home and raise their families and it would be nice to tell their stories as well. I wish we told more mature female stories in general but this miserable suburban woman is just real played out for me.
I suppose it’s a movie that’s a bit of a victim of its own hype. If I just saw it as an experimental indie I might be less critical but I still wouldn’t call it a favorite. That said, I didn’t go to film school so what do I know?! I guess I’m glad to have checked it off my list. If it is one of your favorites let me know why. I would love to learn.
I don’t know what rating to give this one tbh. It’s interesting more for the legacy than the actual movie, but I can’t deny that legacy.
6 out of 10
If you like what I do please consider supporting me on patreon. There’s some great perks and I sure appreciate it https://www.patreon.com/hallmarkies