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Sylvie Van den Elsen,
Celestine, the chambermaid, has new job on the country. The Monteils, who she works for are a group of strange people. The wife is frigid, her husband is always hunting (both animals and women) and her father is a shoe-fetishist. Joseph, the farm-labourer is a fascist and sexually attracted to Celestine. Celestine settles herself and talks to the neighbour, an ex-officer, who likes damaging his neighbour's things. After the death of the old man, she quits her job, but because of the rape and murder of a child 'Little Claire' she decides to stay, believing that Joseph is the murderer. To get his confession she sleeps with him and promises to marry him. In spite of her engagement she fakes evidence to implicate him in the murder. He is arrested, but is released because the evidence is inconclusive. She marries the ex-officer and takes on a housewife role similar to that of Madame Monteil Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <email@example.com>
A brilliant performance from Jean Moreau is just one of many highlights in what could be Bunuel's most underrated movie.
Bunuel's 'Diary Of A Chambermaid' was released in between two of his surreal masterpieces 'The Exterminating Angel' and 'Simon Of The Desert'. It is, on the surface at least, a lot more conventional as either of those, maybe that's why it doesn't get as much attention as it deserves. I don't know why it is rarely mentioned when people discuss the very best of Bunuel, but for me it's almost as great as 'Viridiana' and 'Belle De Jour'. The story was previously filmed by Renoir in the 1940s, but I haven't seen that version, so I can't say how different Bunuel's approach to the material is. As Bunuel claimed not to have seen it either I don't feel so bad. Jean Moreau, the beautiful star of Truffaut's 'Jules And Jim' and countless other Euro art film favourites, gives a brilliant performance as the enigmatic Celestine, maid to The Monteils, a very odd family living in pre-War France. Bunuel includes some of his usual comments about sexual deviance, and France's future under the Nazi occupation haunts the whole film, but what is most interesting to me about the picture is its subtlety and ambiguity. Like 'Belle De Jour' I think each repeated viewing will reveal more, and opinions on its meaning will depend on the individual viewer. Personally I'm still exploring Bunuel's extraordinary body of work. It is exciting doing so. I've probably only seen a third of his output so far, but I've yet to see a movie made by him that is less than fascinating. 'Diary Of A Chambermaid' just might be his most underrated film. I highly recommend it.
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