A 2021 Film Journey: Day 157

I am not sure what happened such that after 4 months of not missing a movie or post once I have been largely unable to keep up in the following 40 days. I am at least caught up on viewings if not posts, and I will be doing my best to play catchup starting with this post today.

This movie was chosen immediately after seeing a tweet wishing a posthumous birthday to Chantal Akerman. While I have seen a few other of her films, I am as guilty as most for thinking of her as the Jeanne Dielman… director and little more, so I’m happy for such a good excuse to view more films by the groundbreaking woman auteur.

Je Tu Il Elle (1974, Dir. Chantal Akerman)

Je Tu Il Elle (1974) - IMDb

More than a concise narrative, Je Tu Il Elle is Chantal Akerman’s internal exploration of dealing with grief from a heartbreak. The exploration is so personal that the director cast herself as the lead – the je in in title. Reeling from the experience, the film begins with Akerman’s character locking herself in a room to process. She eats nothing but powdered sugar from a paper bag for weeks while she eventually begins working on a written story of her emotions. These moments represent the denial and depression stages of grief she undergoes as part of this heartbreak.

Eventually, she finds the power to leave her room and she immediately starts hitchhiking to her ex-lover’s place. She is picked up by a male trucker who presses her for a hand job in exchange for the lift. While she never seems especially angry during the incident, the revenge sexual act serves as that step in her grief. Eventually she arrives to the home of her ex-lover (Claire Wauthion) and Akerman’s character reaches the bargaining state. She begs her ex to stay the night, for food, and eventually for sex – shown surprisingly honestly and graphically for 1974. The following morning, she crawls out of her ex’s naked embrace and leaves without waking her. In these last seconds, her character has finally found acceptance and is ready to live her life as a single woman again.