Jeanne, who lives with her teenage son, fills her empty life with an endless checklist of chores. She cooks, cleans, shops, and every afternoon, in the window of time it takes for the dinner potatoes to boil, she has sex for money with a gentleman caller. Three days in the repetitive existence of this 40-ish middle-class widow are revealed through static, head-on compositions and unblinking blocks of real time.
A cornerstone of feminist cinema, the film was made with about 80 percent women in the crew, including cinematographer Babette Mangolte and editor Patricia Canino. The film remains a frequent subject of scholarly and critical analysis on aspects ranging from women's social experience and gendered identities to cinematic form and psychoanalytic film theory. For Akerman, who grew up in a devout Jewish household in Brussels where "life was organized by rituals", it is above all a very personal film: "It came from what I saw as a kid — all those gestures of my mother. That's why the film is so precise."