Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
Belgium/France, 1975. Paradise Films, Unité Trois, Ministère de la Culture Française de Belgique, Centre du Cinéma et de l’Audiovisuel de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles. Screenplay by Chantal Akerman. Cinematography by Babette Mangolte. Produced by Guy Cavagnac, Alain Dahan, Liliane de Kermadec, Corinne Jenart, Evelyne Paul, Paul Vecchiali. Production Design by Philippe Graff. Film Editing by Patricia Canino.
Chantal Akerman’s career of experimental works reaches its apex with this superbly daring film, a three and a half hour look at the life of a Brussels widow whose routines make up the bulk of the action. We see her over the course of a few days going through her daily rituals, washing dishes, making dinner, doing her shopping and even turning the odd trick to help make ends meet. Akerman said that it was growing up in a traditional Jewish household that gave her the connection between routine and religious ritual, and somehow this spiritual connection between the two is felt even while watching this woman make her bed every morning. Thanks to the solid camerawork following the low-key action, the repetition has a soothing effect; the attention paid to detail makes you wonder if a life of healthy upkeep really is all that mundane? Akerman finds the magic in the everyday, and it is remarkable.