In the final Scene of ” Mrs. America”, the great Cate Blanchett quietly unveils her inner Jeanne Dielman.

Cate Blanchett

When the biopic of Phyllis Schlafley, “Mrs. America”, debuted on Hulu in 2020, a few savvy viewers noticed similarities between the final scene of the miniseries and Chantal Akerman’s masterpiece (or, because of its central character, “feminist masterpiece”) “Jeanne Dielman” or, to give the film its full title, “Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles”.

In this scene, surely un hommage à Akerman by the episode’s writers (Dahvi Waller and Joshua Allen Griffith) and directors (Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck), Schlafley, played to perfection by Cate Blanchett, has just been informed by Reagan himself (we hear his voice on the telephone and see her reaction) that she will not be offered a cabinet position in his administration (it is January 1981). Although Schlafley’s list of Republican contacts, derived from her grassroots movement to prevent the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) by the required 38 States was influential in getting Reagan elected president in 1980, she was considered too polarizing a figure at a time when American politics were not as polarized as they are today. When her husband (John Slattery) tells her that she has been robbed and then nonchalantly asks her what time is dinner, despite the unsympathetic nature of this woman, the way in which the scene unfolds leads us to feel a certain compassion towards her. Blanchett then slowly hangs up the phone and returns, defeated, to the kitchen. The camera frames her in a medium shot and in a single take that will last about one minute, she sits at the table, facing us, and begins to robotically peel one apple, then another, then another. And there she is, before our eyes. We are witnessing the renaissance of Jeanne Dielman!


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