Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
French poster
Directed byChantal Akerman
Written byChantal Akerman
Produced byCorinne Jénart
Evelyne Paul
StarringDelphine Seyrig
Jan Decorte
Jacques Doniol-Valcroze
CinematographyBabette Mangolte
Edited byPatricia Canino
Distributed byThe Criterion Collection (USA DVD)
Janus Films (USA)
Release date
  • 14 May 1975 (1975-05-14)
Running time
201 minutes

Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, more commonly known simply as Jeanne Dielman (French pronunciation: ​[ʒan dilman vɛ̃ntʁwɑ ke dy kɔmeʁs milkatʁəvɛ̃ bʁysɛl], "Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels") is a 1975 arthouse film by Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman. It's a slice of life portrayal of the life of a housewife.[1][2]

Upon its release, critic Louis Marcorelles called it the "first masterpiece of the feminine in the history of the cinema".[3] It has become a cult classic and was the 19th-greatest film of the 20th century in a critics poll conducted by The Village Voice.[4][5] In 2012, the film ranked 35th on critic's poll in Sight & Sound magazine's 100 greatest films of all time list.[6]


‘The film examines a single mother's regimented schedule of cooking, cleaning and mothering over three days. The mother, Jeanne Dielman (whose name is only derived from the title and from a letter she reads to her son), has sex with male clients in her house each afternoon, for her and her son's subsistence. Like her other activities, Jeanne's sex work is part of the routine she performs every day by rote and is uneventful. But on the second and third day, Jeanne's routine begins to unravel subtly, as she overcooks the potatoes that she's preparing for dinner, and drops a newly washed spoon. These alterations to Jeanne's existence prepare for the climax on the third day, during which she murders a client.



After establishing herself as a major film director in 1974 with Je, tu, il, elle, Akerman said that she "felt ready to make a feature with more money" and applied for a grant from the Belgian government for financial support, submitting a script that Jane Clarke described as portraying "a rigorous regimen [constructed] around food ... and routine bought sex in the afternoon". This script would only be the rough basis for Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles because after Akerman received the government grant of $120,000 and began production, she threw the script out and began a new film instead.[7] Akerman also explained that she was able to make a female-centric film because "at that point everybody was talking about women" and that it was "the right time".[7]

Shooting Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles took five weeks and Akerman called it "a love film for my mother. It gives recognition to that kind of woman".[7] Akerman used an all female crew for the film, which she later said "didn't work that well - not because they were women but because I didn't choose them. It was enough just to be a woman to work on my film ... so the shooting was awful". Akerman further stated that "a hierarchy of images" that places a car accident or a kiss "higher in the hierarchy than washing up ... And it's not by accident, but relates to the place of woman in the social hierarchy ... Woman's work comes out of oppression and whatever comes out of oppression is more interesting. You have to be definite. You have to be".[7]

The film depicts the life of Jeanne Dielman in real time, which Akerman said "was the only way to shoot the film - to avoid cutting the action in a hundred places, to look carefully and to be respectful. The framing was meant to respect her space, her, and her gestures within it".[7] The long static shots ensure that the viewer "always knows where I am."[8]


Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles premiered at the Directors Fortnight at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival and was financially successful in Europe. Writer Peter Handke and filmmaker Alain Tanner have cited it as influential on their work. It was not released in the United States until 1983.[7]

Film critic John Coleman said that "the film's time span covers Tuesday (stew and potatoes), Wednesday (wiener schnitzel) and heady Thursday (meat loaf and Jeanne has an orgasm and kills her client with a pair of scissors). This orgasm bit is bound to strike the serious-minded as an unfortunate bow of crass commercialism".[7] Jonathan Rosenbaum defended the film and said that it "needs its running time, for its subject is an epic one, and the overall sweep ... trains one to recognize and respond to fluctuations and nuances. If a radical cinema is something that goes to the roots of experience, this is at the very least a film that shows where and how some of these roots are buried".[7] Critic Gary Indiana said that "Akerman's brilliance is her ability to keep the viewer fascinated by everything normally left out of movies".[7]

Ivone Marguilies observed that the film was "fully in tune" with the European women's movement of the time, and that feminist critics welcomed its "rigorous alignment of sexual/gender politics with a formal economy—showing cooking and hiding sex—... as an impressive alternative to well-intentioned but conventional political documentaries and features."[8] B. Ruby Rich said that "never before was the materiality of woman's time in the home rendered so viscerally ... She invents a new language capable of transmitting truths previously unspoken".[7] Marsha Kinder called it "the best feature that I have ever seen made by a woman".[7] Akerman was reluctant to be seen as a feminist filmmaker, stating that "I don't think woman's cinema exists".[7]

Film director Gus Van Sant named Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles an inspiration for his own similar films Gerry (2002) and Elephant (2003).[9]


  1. ^ "Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles". MUBI. Archived from the original on 11 September 2017. Retrieved 25 December 2020.
  2. ^ Dean, Tacita (6 January 1999). "The time of our lives". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 7 May 2014. Retrieved 25 December 2020.
  3. ^ Spaas, Lieve (2000). Francophone Film: A Struggle for Identity. Manchester: Manchester University Press. p. 27. ISBN 0-7190-5860-0. OCLC 46332176. In Le Monde Louis Marcorelles referred to the film as 'Undoubtedly the first masterpiece of the feminine in the history of cinema' (Marcorelles Le Monde 22 January 1976, trans.).
  4. ^ Mathijs, Ernest; Sexton, Jamie (2011). Cult Cinema: An Introduction. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-4051-7374-2. OCLC 692084802.CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  5. ^ Hoberman, James Lewis (2001) [4 January 2000]. "100 Best Films of the 20th Century: Village Voice Critics' Poll". The Village Voice (reprint ed.). Reprinted by AMC. Archived from the original on 31 March 2014.
  6. ^ Christie, Ian (1 August 2012). "The Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time". Sight & Sound. Archived from the original on 12 October 2013. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Wakeman, John (1987). World Film Directors, Volume 2. New York: H.W. Wilson. pp. 4–5. ISBN 978-0-8242-0757-1. OCLC 16925324.
  8. ^ a b Margulies, Ivone (17 August 2009). "A Matter of Time: Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles". The Criterion Collection. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
  9. ^ Demay, Jean-François (7 October 2015). "Chantal Akerman : retour sur la carrière d'une cinéaste influente". ELLE (in French). Archived from the original on 9 October 2015. Retrieved 14 March 2016.

External links[edit]