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Schnitzel­tag

A singular work in film history, Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles examines a single mother’s regimented schedule of cooking, cleaning and mothering over three days. The mother, Jeanne Dielman (whose name is only derived from the title and from a letter she reads to her son), has sex with male clients in her house each afternoon, for her and her son’s subsistence. Like her other activities, Jeanne’s sex work is part of the routine she performs every day by rote and is uneventful. But on the second and third day, Jeanne’s routine begins to unravel subtly, as she overcooks the potatoes that she’s preparing for dinner, and drops a newly washed spoon. These alterations to Jeanne’s existence prepare for the climax on the third day, when she kills that day’s client after having sex, then sits quietly at her dining room table.

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