A surrealist tale of a man and a woman who are passionately in love with each other, but their attempts to consummate that passion are constantly thwarted by their families, the Church, and bourgeois society.
Caridad de Laberdesque
Severine is a beautiful young woman married to a doctor. She loves her husband dearly, but cannot bring herself to be physically intimate with him. She indulges instead in vivid, kinky, erotic fantasies to entertain her sexual desires. Eventually she becomes a prostitute, working in a brothel in the afternoons while remaining chaste in her marriage.Written by
James Meek <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For the striking opening sequence in which the audience first gets a glimpse into Séverine's masochistic fantasies, Luis Buñuel originally wanted to use an entirely different location. He recalled, "...my only regret about Belle de Jour was that the proprietor of the famous Train Bleu at the Gare de Lyon refused to allow me to shoot the opening scene on the premises. It's a spectacular restaurant on the second floor of the railroad station, designed around 1900 by a group of painters, sculptors, and decorators who created a kind of opera-house décor devoted to trains and the countries they can take us to." See more »
When the client that wants to be spanked rejects Belle Du Jour she puts her robe back on but not her bra. Then when she sees the Asian client a few moments later, she takes off her robe and her bra is on. See more »
One of Bunuel's more well-known works; an interesting morality story with Deneuve
Luis Bunuel, notorious for his use of simple, striking, yet un-cannily affecting surrealism in movies, keeps it down to a lower (yet still imaginative) key for Belle Du Jour. This works though because un-like a film like Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie where surrealism was like another character amidst the other character's dreams and nightmares, this one only keeps in surrealism for the sake of the lead character's inner demons poking up through the every-day malaise. This lead, Severine, is played in one of Catherine Deneuve's key career performances, that finds that two-sided-ness she feels while married to her husband Pierre.
She loves him, but there's something that she's not getting out of the marriage that's leaving her empty, aimless, and her fantasies- however in the realm of (dark) fantasy- go to show she needs to do something during the day. She then finds out about a high-class brothel with only a couple of workers already employed. At first reluctant, she gives in to her temptations, serving the odder types of Paris looking for a good time, with one of them, Marcel (Pierre Clementi) falling head over heels for her.
What seemed most intriguing about the film was how Bunuel dealt with the themes- the two crucial ones being morality and sexuality. His imagery is direct, maybe too direct, but it gets its points across with a realism that is alluring and far & away (almost like a satire of such a life). She can't stop what she's started, and she doesn't really know how to end it unless she gets caught.
Then with the sexuality, it's never over-emphasized (i.e. no nudity, outside of a quick couple of shots of nudity), and no one is shown having sex on screen. What comes out is the emotional tally of Severine, the other girls, and the supporting characters that come in and out of the brothel. It may seem dated at moments, and the observatory notes go to making the film seem a tad longer than it is. But never-the-less, Belle de Jour is a worthwhile, memorable effort of the 1960's cinema.
And, at many times, it's quite funny. More than that, a laugh riot.
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