Wednesday 1 May 2013

Tristana [1970]

Tristana, adapted from Benito Pérez Galdós’ novel, remains among the most overlooked works of Luis Buñuel. On account of being sandwiched by some of his greatest masterpieces it tends to get lost despite being a searing examination of class, social hypocrisy and battle of the sexes. Don Lope (Fernando Rey) is an aristocrat who refuses to work despite fast dwindling finances. In one of his philanthropic initiatives, he has taken responsibility for the upbringing of Tristana (Catherine Deneuve), a beautiful orphan girl. However, like his character Viridiana, he feels an ownership over her; he asks her to alternately consider him as her father and lover, and starts taking advantage of his position. But, as she starts developing a mind of her own, she eventually falls flees from home with an impoverished painter (Franco Nero), only to return after a few years upon being afflicted with cancerous tumour. And now, in an ironic reversal of their states, the ageing Lope is absolutely besotted with her, but she, particularly upon losing her leg, has become cold, emotionally distant and frigid, thus making him cuckolded to her. Deneuve, who had earlier starred in Belle de Jour, gave an outstanding turn – particularly in marvelously portraying the emotional and behavioral transition of her character, while Buñuel’s favourite collaborator Rey was brilliant as always as a suave and debonair but debauched aristocrat. Though principally a layered and compelling character study and a sly take on human dynamics, it also had underpinnings of religious criticism and surrealism; the seamless mix between dream and reality that was present briefly here, would reach its crescendo in his next film, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.

Director: Luis Bunuel
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Marriage Drama/Social Satire
Language: Spanish
Country: Spain

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