Over the course of three days, we observe the humdrum routine of middle-aged widow Jeanne Dielman (Seyrig) as she feeds her son and attends to various domestic chores. But the longer we watch this Belgian housewife at her mundane tasks, the more we discover about her secret life and psychological makeup, especially once the gentlemen callers start arriving. And then something shocking happens...
Despite the long running time, Akerman’s meticulously detailed slice-of-life drama pays handsome rewards to those who surrender to its real-time rhythm. Akerman is so attentive to Dielman’s monotonous existence that it takes some time for us to sense that a tension is building, almost imperceptibly, which will be released in a burst of cathartic violence. Little seen in 1975 but praised by critics in thrall to its subversive, uncompromising vision of female alienation, “Jeanne Dielman” has since been recognized as a masterpiece of edgy and experimental storytelling.