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Coffee on Celluloid: Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai de Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975, dir. Chantal Akerman)

Updated: Mar 31



For many of us, coffee is one of the many things we rely on to get through the day. For the titular character Jeanne Dielman, it's no different. The 1975 film by Belgian director Chantal Akerman, depicts the daily quotidian minutiae in three days of a single mother's life in Brussels. In one scene, which takes place on the morning of Day 3, Jeanne pours some milk into her coffee, only to find it doesn't turn out right, so she makes it again. A metaphor for powering through life, if ever there was one.


Back in December 2022, noted film publication Sight & Sound released the results of their decennial "Greatest Films of All Time" poll, listing Jeanne Dielman at the very top -- much to the slight surprise of many a film aficionado. In the time since its 1975 release, the film has since become a unique reference point for feminist attitudes in cinema, with its ability to subvert the usual "male gaze" of the filmgoer. It was the first film to crack the top ten in Sight & Sound's history -- serving as an interesting precursor to the women-dominated 2023 year in film to follow.


 


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