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Greenberg and Other Character Studies
Posted March 08, 2010 to photo album "Greenberg and Other Character Studies"
Noah Baumbach’s comedy Greenberg probes the psyche of a man in search of himself. We consider other films that study character.
Slide 9: Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles - Character as surface
Chatal Akerman’s 1975 three-hours-and-21-minute film about three days in the life of a Belgian housewife is one of cinema’s great character studies. At first, one fears that the unrelenting repetition of every banal event in this woman’s life will equal watching paint dry for suspense. But, strangely, the opposite happens. Shot at waist-length with no camera movement, with everything facing forward as if on stage, the film seems to hide nothing. But over time, the plain surface of daily events (her cooking, drinking coffee, turning tricks) grows more cryptic and filled with meaning. The repetition of her schedule becomes at once comforting and filled with questions. Akerman said of her character: “She doesn’t leave any room for anxiety. It’s like the workaholic; they do the same. When they stop, they die, because then they have to face something inside of them that they don’t want to face.”