Saturday, 8 May 2010
Belle de Jour 
Belle de Jour might or might not be Spanish provocateur Luis Bunuel’s finest film, but it remains without any semblance of doubt his most famous work. A satire on social fabric and human behaviour, the movie blurred the not-so-thin line between bourgeois affluence and elegance on one hand, and depravity and moral decadence on the other. Catherine Deneuve, like her character in Polanski’s Repulsion, is a frigid girl-woman whose fragile and soft demeanour masks and not sure of what she really wants; only that in a not-so-subtle variation, she takes a radically different approach to give vent to her internal fantasies and frustrations. Thus, while by day she is Severine, a beautiful and wealthy newly married lady suffering from ennui, by, err, afternoon, she becomes “belle de jour”, a high-society toy or bimbo for closet perverts. Despite the suggestive storyline, the movie never veers towards anything saucy or exploitative. Instead, the movie, which freely alternates between reality and supposed reality, is a sly take on alienation, forbidden pleasures, and the intense human desire of being what one is not by acting out, either in person or through elaborate dream sequences, one’s most lurid fantasies. Bunuel held us a puzzle that is Catherine’s unfathomable mind and took great pleasure in not unscrambling it for us – that, for me, is the defining feature of this film.
Director: Luis Bunuel
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Social Satire