Belgium / France, 1975 (MIFF 1979)

Director: Chantal Akerman

In the space of a few years, Jeanne Dielman has become known as one of the most important works of modern cinema. In it the director, Chantal Akerman, while using conventional narrative elements (the life of a housewife closely and minutely observed), introduces a new approach to the relationship between film time and real time; experiments with new uses of space and sound, and further explores the relationship of the camera to the objects and action before it.

The film covers three days in Jeanne's life, devoting roughly an hour to each.

The first sets out her routine, carried out with great care and deliberation. She gets up, prepares her son for school, grinds the coffee beans, washes the dishes, makes the beds, shops, minds her neighbour's baby, bathes, prepares the meals, helps her son with his homework, goes for an evening walk, goes to bed.

To supplement her income, she works as a prostitute, having permanent customers each allocated a particular day of the week. This aspect of her life is treated in the film as simply another ritual in her daily routine.

We see Jeanne talking briefly with other women outside the apartment; her son also insists on conversation. During the first night, he asks her how she met his late father. During the second, he confesses to his own confused feelings about sex clearly disturbing her.

The customer of the second day stays longer than expected, upsetting Jeanne's routine. This is the beginning of a series of disruptions and mental slips, carrying over into the third day, that become more frequent and gradually intensify, greatly affecting Jeanne's stability. She wanders in and out of rooms, anxious and disoriented, her efficiency eroded.

It is not until she is with the third client that the film shows her making love, leading to the final, climactic episode in our long journey to the understanding of Jeanne Dielman.

Chantal Akerman

Born: 1950. Between 1968 and 1973, made six short and medium length films.

Features: Je tu il elle (1974), Jeanne Dielman (1975), News From Home (1977), Meetings of Anna (1978).

See also...


This stylised documentary from the (always art) House of Akerman is the product of the director's travels from East Germany to Moscow shot over some six months. Without the conventional documentary te... More »


Chantal Akerman's Golden Eighties is an exuberant witty tongue-in-cheek musical for the modern age. The inescapable comparison is with the light-opera musicals of Jacques Demy, but Akerman's touch is ... More »


lmages of night and images of love are ... interwoven with each other, couples ... meet and separate, fragments of life are ... captured in short scenes. They don't tell ... a story, and yet, they tel... More »


"It is as if Chantal Akerman, perhaps for the first time in her career, has revealed the core of her work and her wounds in the most naked of ways." – Cinema Scope ... One of cinema's most innovative ... More »


The film follows the dance group of Pina Bausch in Germany, Italy and Avignon in France during her most recent European tour. It shows the working atmosphere, the presentation, the intense rehearsals,... More »


In 1975, Chantal Akerman made Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, and since then, she has been in the forefront of a developing feminist cinema. Les rendez-vous d'Anna continues her i... More »

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