Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles



Chantal Akerman's greatest film to date--made in 1975, and running 198 minutes--is one of those lucid puzzlers that may drive you up the wall, but will keep you thinking about it for days and weeks afterward. Delphine Seyrig, in one of her greatest performances, plays the eponymous lead, a Belgian woman obsessed with performing her daily rounds of housework and other routines (which include occasional prostitution) in the same flat she occupies with her teenage son. The film follows three days in her regulated life, and Akerman's intense concentration on her daily activities, monumentalized by Babette Mangolte's superb cinematography and mainly frontal camera setups, eventually sensitizes our perceptions to the point where we start to notice the small ways in which her system starts to break down. By placing so much emphasis on aspects of life and work that other films routinely omit, mystify, or skirt over, Akerman's masterpiece forges a major statement not only in a feminist context, but in such a way as to tell us all something about the lives that we live. (International House, 1414 E. 59th St., Friday, January 22, 8:00, 753-2274)

Add a comment