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Jeanne Dielman 23 Quai Du Commerce (The Criterion Collection)

Delphine Seyrig , Jan Decorte , Chantal Akerman    Unrated   DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Peu de mots mais qui veut tout dire Jan. 27 2013
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Je m'attendais à voir un film comme tous les films...soit avec un dialogue.
Ce n'est pas le cas. Par contre la comédienne joue tellement bien son rôle que tu veux continuer à regarder le film pour voir ce qui va se passer. Et quelle vie ennuyante qu'est la sienne. A voir mais par ceux qui n'aime pas trop l'action.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique, challenging, classic modern art film April 9 2011
By K. Gordon TOP 50 REVIEWER
Fascinating, powerful, hyper-controlled study of woman slowly coming unglued. Uses its 3 hour+ running time to put you inside the stultifying boredom and ennui of her life, and lets you see the tiny changes in her repetitive days that are powerful and meaningful barometers of the titanic emotions going on behind her blank masque. Not easy or `fun' to watch. By definition (and intention?) it gets slow to the point of boredom at times. (Indeed NY Times critic Vincent Canby, who loved the film, jokingly warned that watching it 'could be fatal' if one was in the wrong mood.) But everything interconnects in an amazingly thought-out way. Every bit of dialogue (of which there's almost none) leaves a clue, or at least a trace. Fascinating camerawork; almost always static images. with every cut at 90 degree angles. And again, when that rule is broken there are specific thematic and storytelling reasons. A challenging, 'difficult' film, but one not to be missed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Extraordinary Achievement Dec 9 2013
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This is not a run-of-the-mill, standard, conventional movie. Not at all! We watch a single mother living with her teen-age son in a small apartment, doing her daily chores. In the afternoons, we see her serving clients in her bedroom. Without a background music and hardly any conversations, this routine continues three consecutive days and we observe this most unusual story three-hours-and-twenty-one minutes. The woman is Delphine Seyrig and she is absolutely fabulous in this very demanding role. She is on the screen constantly; she lives --and displays-- the life of Jeanne Dielman, the leading character, incredibly well. The director of the film is a twenty-five-year-old Chantal Akerman and she proves that she would become an outstanding cineast at an early age. Thanks to Criterion, we now have a great re-mastered copy of this 1975 production.

This is a gem. This is a remarkable work-of-art. Do not miss it!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Courageous and Bold Film - Like Nothing You Have Ever Seen June 17 2009
By Grayzer - Published on Amazon.com
How great that Criterion is releasing this masterpiece! It's really impossible to describe this film. I saw it back in the eighties and since then have tried to explain to friends the techniques that Chantal Ackerman uses to tell her tale. Most shake their heads and wonder why someone would want to watch repetitive static shots of real-time, full-length, unedited actions of the main characters doing things like peeling and boiling potatoes, making coffee, making meatloaf, etc. The film has the pace of a Tarkovsky film (but without the pretentiousness), and it sounds as if it would be incredibly boring. At 200 minutes it will test you (especially if you aren't used to "art-house cinema"), but it works so well that you will be riveted by the smallest details and gestures. The action comes together (hint: or comes apart) perfectly, and it all makes sense in the (infamous) end. Throughout, you will find yourself joyously perplexed. There's humor and drama and perfectly scaled lulls and crescendos.

This is courageous and bold film making.

I saw the film again several months ago at SF MoMA, and the pure genius of it is undiminished. It is not dated, nor is it pretentious or overly artsy in its approach. I managed to drag along one of those friends who hadn't seen the film back in the eighties, and he was blown away. When the film ended, he turned to me and said, "Incredible" .
34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable July 6 2009
By Howard Gardner Stevenson - Published on Amazon.com
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As others have mentioned, this is a film unlike any ever made. Not only is it utterly original and distinctive, it took chances that filmmakers just don't take anymore - and it succeeded. The audience for Jeanne Dielman is certainly small. Most viewers would find this film slow and impenetrable, yet those are its strengths. Only through experiencing nearly every moment of Jeanne's life over several days does the viewer absorb the full impact of the film and appreciate its climax. I've never seen such a pure, personal vision of film created so successfully and I have no doubt that when people discuss 20th century filmmaking in several hundred years, this film will be a part of that discussion. If you sit through all 3 hours and follow it closely, you'll never forget this film, even if you think you don't like it. For me, it's one of the high points in cinema history and more than any other film ever made, it stands alone, sui generis - one of a kind. And, everyone who loves the movies is better off because of it.
And, for those who don't "get" this film, fear not: the next Adam Sandler movie and Saw IX will be coming to a multiplex near you, soon.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant film from a unique voice Jan. 30 2010
By Le_Samourai - Published on Amazon.com
In the unnerving silence of a sparsely furnished kitchen in Brussels, a poised, anonymous middle-aged woman (Delphine Seyrig) - identified only through the title of the film as Jeanne Dielman - completes her food preparation, places the contents into a large cooking pot on the stove, reaches for a match, lights the burner, and with chronological precision, finishes replacing the matchbox from its original location as the doorbell rings, switching the lights off as she leaves the room. The scene then cuts to an unusually framed shot of a truncated Jeanne at the entrance of the apartment as she accepts a hat and coat from an unidentified guest (Henri Storck) before retreating, out of view, into a bedroom at the end of the hallway. Moments later, the obscured image is reconnected to a familiar referential framing of the darkened hallway as the unknown guest re-emerges from the room and prepares to leave, handing Jeanne a pre-arranged sum of money before confirming their next appointment for the following week. She deposits the money in a soup tureen in the dining room, then returns to the kitchen to attend to the boiling pot, before tidying the bedroom and meticulously bathing and changing clothes after the encounter. And so Jeanne's monotonous daily ritual unfolds through the tedium of household chores, impersonal sexual transactions, trivial errands, and alienated conversations with her son, Sylvain (Jan Decorte), revealing the silent anguish of disconnection and systematic erosion of the human soul.

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles is a visually rigorous, uncompromising, and understatedly harrowing portrait of alienation, repression, and marginalization. Using primarily long take, medium shots from the repeated perspective of a stationary camera, Chantal Akerman creates an innately disquieting atmosphere of stasis and monotony. From the opening image of Jeanne facing away from the camera, to her visually decapitated shot as she politely receives clients by the entrance hallway of the apartment, Akerman uses extended, isolated framing that inhibits personal identification of the title character and reinforces a pervasive sense of unconscious, mechanical activity. The repeated filmic cued scene transitions associated with the actuation of light switches throughout the apartment further underscore the fragmented nature and dehumanized automation of her domestic tasks. By presenting the controlled and deliberate gestures inherent in Jeanne's ritualistic actions that betray an implicit violence beneath the veneer of structure and order - as she bathes (note the similar imagery of cleansing in Michael Haneke's The Seventh Continent), knits, shines shoes (a familiar episode from Akerman's short film, Saute ma ville), and peels potatoes - the film provocatively captures the unarticulated tragedy of estrangement, loneliness, and disconnection.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jeanne Dielman June 15 2009
By Robert Landis - Published on Amazon.com
I saw this film at the Film Forum in NYC in ~ 1982. IT BLEW ME AWAY. It was a mesmerising experience that I will never forget, and I am so glad that it is being released by The Criterion Collection.
The movie is long, and seems to move slowly, as some scenes are filmed in real time. The payoff comes at the end, when in a startling ending everything makes sense. A riveting film that you will think about for the rest of your life.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Groundhog Day in France Oct. 1 2009
By Dean Monti - Published on Amazon.com
I was curious about this film based on the reviews here and wanted to find out what is so different about it. And yes, it is different. It's not revolutionary, however. German filmmakers like Wim Wenders R.W. Fassbinder and many, if not most important Japanese film directors have felt at ease with a slower in-the-course-of-time pace. And if you're not familiar with this film, that's what most are talking about.

When the protagonist makes dinner, we watch her make dinner, start to finish. When she washes the dishes, we see every plate and cup washed and put in the rack. Her elevator rides are pretty much in real time too. So if it takes a minute or two to get from point a to point b, the viewer experiences that with the protagonist. The camera doesn't cut away from these mundane actions, and they are observed silently; no inner monologue or narrative. And most of the time the action is static, with a single camera angle. No close ups of hands or dishes or pieces of meat. There are no tight shots that overtly call out objects as symbolic symbols. It's all distantly observed.

For the bulk of this film, her sexual liaisons are not shown. Whereas most films (including foreign and art films) present story as a series of events that form a meaning out of the "big events" that occur in life, and saying "this is what life is like," this film seems to be saying that this, with all its mundane aspects, is what life is like too. We just choose to dismiss the uneventful parts of our lives as not pertinent to the whole of our lives.

And while this film is not Groundhog Day, it perhaps succeeds at underscoring the fact that, for many, life is pretty much the same day repeated again and again. But there is a growing sense of desperation. You feel it more in the last part of the film. And the film is not devoid of "story." There are scenes of interaction between the woman and her son that reveal much and are interesting to watch.

I'd be hard-pressed to recommend this film, however, and I'm not exactly championing it here, but I did watch from beginning to end, and with interest. I feel like I should get a t-shirt or or something for sitting through it, however. It's an unusual film and takes some effort to watch. So, while I'm still on the fence about this one, I do think it succeeds in what I think it's attempting to evoke. But ... what do I know?
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