Although confrontational, idiosyncratic and extraordinary films have consistently appeared lower in the lists, the experimental tradition, to which Jeanne Dielman belongs, is – apart perhaps from the recent appearance of Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera (1929) – absent. While it has brought this tradition to the top of the list, Jeanne Dielman is inescapably a woman’s film, consciously feminist in its turn to the avant garde. On the side of content, the film charts the breakdown of a bourgeois Belgian housewife, mother and part-time prostitute over the course of three days; on the side of form, it rigorously records her domestic routine in extended time and from a fixed camera position. In a film that, agonisingly, depicts women’s oppression, Akerman transforms cinema, itself so often an instrument of women’s oppression, into a liberating force.
Laura Mulvey / Sight and Sound