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Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels (1975)

Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 21 January 1976 (France)
A lonely widowed housewife does her daily chores, takes care of her apartment where she lives with her teenage son, and turns the occasional trick to make ends meet. However, something happens that changes her safe routine.


(as Chantal Anne Akerman)



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Complete credited cast:
Jan Decorte ...
Sylvain Dielman
Henri Storck ...
1st Caller
Jacques Doniol-Valcroze ...
2nd Caller
Yves Bical ...
3rd Caller


Jeanne Dielman, a lonely young widow, lives with her son Sylvain following an immutable order: while the boy is in school, she cares for their apartment, does chores, and receives clients in the afternoon. Written by Volker Boehm

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

21 January 1976 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Jeanne Dielman  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Festival selections: Edinburgh International Film Festival (1975, 1976 and 1979), Locarno Film Festival (1975), Regus London Film Festival (November 1975), International Film Festival of India (New Delhi, January 1979), Berlin International Film Festival (June 1975), Sydney Film Festival (1976). See more »


In one scene in the kitchen, the thermos is on the window ledge but appears on the table when the camera cuts to a different angle. See more »


[repeated lines]
Jeanne Dielman: Did you wash your hands?
See more »


Bagatelle for Piano
Composed by Ludwig van Beethoven
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User Reviews

It's all real, too real...
27 April 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles defines a bleak, nearly-insufferable reality for some people, but it's a reality undoubtedly face every day - divorced or widowed mothers that must slog away at an endless bout of chores. Their persistency and compulsiveness may not be as meticulous as our titular character's, but they very well could mirror the same mannerisms and patterns in terms of carrying out these chores.

For two-hundred and twenty-one minutes, we watch Jeanne Dielman (Delphine Seyrig) carry out a several day's worth of chores, whether it be mopping, washing dishes, peeling potatoes, cooking dinner, and so forth. I'd be interested in hearing the diversity of people's reactions to this material. No doubt some will cringe at the thought of sitting in front of a screen for three and a half hours, viewing a film about a single mom's daily routine. Personally, he premise had be at its naturalism.

To faithful readers, it comes as no surprise I'd love Jeanne Dielman; it is one of the most naturalistic, soothing, and original films I've come across in a blue moon. We are simply observers, flies on the wall to Jeanne's daily routine, never interfering or side-stepping our role as a passive observer to her actions. It's hard not to be somewhat vocal at her actions, as we slowly see her dark side come through as she frequently prostitutes herself for money, turning tricks in a shockingly cold way.

Not long after the film begins, Jeanne's compulsive routine becomes implanted in our heads, so much so that the sounds of potatoes being peeled, dishes clanking together and being washed, the faucet running, or Jeanne's footsteps on her titled-kitchen floor begin to possess a wonderful and rare musicality to them. We begin to anticipate them, look forward to them, and just sit back and listen to them, as if we're beginning to fall to the life of a routine housewife.

The second day in the life of Dielman is when things begin to heat up, however; this is where we see her begin to get tired, frustrated, and sloppy. She winds up overcooking a meal, dropping a newly-cleaned dish, losing a button for a shirt and not being able to find it, among other small, easy-to-miss occurrences. With this, we see Jeanne's only vice is prostitution because it allows for a break in conventionality and a bout of unpredictability, regardless of how cold and vapid the sex so often is. Watching her put up with a thankless, rigorous routine for so long makes one wonder why more mothers aren't participating in a quietly rebellious lifestyle. For all I know, many are.

Jeanne Dielman possesses some beautifully natural cinematography and tight-framing techniques, thanks to the work of Babette Mangolte's use of familiar settings as well as directress Chantal Akerman's direction that captures anything and everything in a scene. Akerman scholar Ivone Margulies claims that through her detailed expressions of scenes, depictions of routine monotony, and tightly-compacted shots, Akerman was trying to bring about ideas of feminism, a woman's role in the world at the time, as well as a bout of "anti-illusionism" to the screen, contrary to what cinema was founded on. Early cinema came about by defying reality, convention, and anything real, often inviting a magical persona in with the early shorts of the late-1800's. There's nothing magical about Jeanne Dielman - it's all real, too real.

Frankly, some will still not look into Jeanne Dielman because of their lack of desire to see real-life portrayed on film. As someone who hungers for naturalism, believable events, and relatable relationships and characters in films, I find this notion hard to penetrate but can simply respect it. I've had people tell me the films of Joe Swanberg, the Duplass brothers, and Kevin Smith offput them because they're "too real" and "I don't want to see that." I feel people have been quietly, unintentionally thought that going to the movies means seeing something you couldn't see anywhere else, and that films portraying or trying to replicate real life are just not acceptable. Along comes an unassuming but powerful film like Jeanne Dielman that will be missed by people who have the same sort of petty quibbles about naturalistic film.

Finally, sex is a recurring theme in the film, although it is never shown in grave detail. Consider the scene where Jeanne's only son brings up the ideas that circumvented his mind when he first discovered what mom and dad were doing in the bedroom, and the anger, hostility, and fear he felt inside of him. They were emotions too big for him to handle, and if he knew his mother was a frequent prostitute, no doubt he'd feel the same sickness. One constant theme and idea in Jeanne Dielman is the characters often say what they're really not supposed to say, leaving no filter on their thoughts. This provides for an unsurprising detailed and open account of feelings, rather than the obligatory situational comedy one would think would arise from such a feature.

Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles's runtime will no doubt be a slog for many people; this could easily be described a "maddening masterpiece," meaning that while someone can see what is trying to be done and admire the themes, have a hard time sitting through the film. To say Jeanne Dielman was an easy sit for myself would be straight-up lying. However, with each passing scene, the film found a different way to enchant and mesmerize me, regardless of inducing restlessness because of its detailed, real-time look into life.

Starring: Delphine Seyrig.

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Should I give this movie a second chance? poodles_and_noodles
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