One of Luis Bunuel's most free-form and purely Surrealist films, consisting of a series of only vaguely related episodes - most famously, the dinner party scene where people sit on ... See full summary »
In this film inspired by the ancient erotic and mysterious tales of the Middle East, the main story concerns an innocent young man who comes to fall in love with a slave who selected him as... See full summary »
A dense film that cuts up footage of a primary plot of two young Yugoslavian girls, one a politico and the other a sexpot, and an affair with a visiting Russian skater. Mixing metaphors of ... See full summary »
An old woman finds a baby among the cauliflowers in her garden. She takes care of the orphan, and calls him Totò. When she dies, he is sent to an orphanage, which he leaves as a teenager. ... See full summary »
Vittorio De Sica
Several bourgeois friends planning to get together for dinner experience a succession of highly unusual occurrences that interfere with their expected dining enjoyment. Written by
Ed Cannon <email@example.com>
Bunuel's career was one of the most sensational you could dream of.At least ten of his movies are among my favorites and ten others are not far behind.
Once he said :" when I was young and I was watching the sky and saying :"it's beautiful up there and there's nothing;now,I simply say :"it's beautiful"Atheism had turned into agnosticism.Perhaps so,but Bunuel's favorite targets are still here.The bishop and the army are here to stay;they already were in "l'âge d'or" (1930)
"DIscreet charm" is a comprehensive work :it includes almost everything that made Bunuel the genius every cine buff loves ;his permanent features are all included: these bourgeois walking on an endless road are the same who were locked up in the house in "el angel exterminador";Rabal trying to catch one more peace of meat is like the men who were fighting for water in "el angel" .THe selfishness of the bourgeoisie is given a stunning treatment:the impossibility to get a good meal .Bunuel explodes certitudes and he explodes different genres.One of them is the light comedy with its adulteries,its mistaken identities and its contretemps.and if the message is not clear enough,one of the scenes shows the characters on a stage!Another one is the horror and fantasy film : the young boy's mother asking him to kill his father (who is actually not his parent);and most of all the soldier's dream which could provide the substance for at least a whole movie.
Dreamlike sequences are Bunuel's forte .He has sometimes been equaled (André Delvaux:"un soir un train" ) but never surpassed: just think of Pablo's dream in "los olvidados" ;the Christ on the electric wires in "cela s'appelle l'aurore" ;Séverine's fantasies in "Belle de Jour" ;Rey's head as a bell clapper in "Tristana".But in "discreet charm" Bunuel seems to connect all the links of the chain and his film becomes a tapestry of Bayeux where dreams and reality follow naturally. "I dreamed ,Thevenot says,that Senechal dreamed that he was on a stage and ..." It' s "Jacob's ladder" twenty years before that later movie appears.
It's also a political movie,but not a work for highbrows .What he did not fully achieved with the spotty "la fièvre monte à El Pao" ,and the more interesting "death in the garden" ,Bunuel pulls it off with gusto here.The republic (sic) of Miranda whose ambassador is none other than Rey is ,even if we never see it , depicted in minute lavish detail .Unlike highbrows like Godard who deals out his lecture on Mao in "la chinoise" ,Luis Bunuel remains accessible to everybody:we laugh and we laugh a lot when we discover the harsh realities of Miranda Land which has no pyramids ,but has Nazis and poverty.Actually it's not that much funny.
A word about the cast;it's perfect:Rey is wonderful as a drug trafficker ambassador who is always afraid to be slain ;Stephane Audran and Jean-Pierre Cassel had teamed up two years before in another attack against bourgeoisie ,Chabrol's "la rupture" ;Bulle Ogier,for once,forgets her usual parts who give the non-intellectual terrible headaches and manages to stay very natural;Claude Piéplu and his inimitable voice (make sure you hear his voice:nobody can dub him successfully) portrays a colorful colonel who tells the ambassador home truth and literally invades Audran's house with his staff and has lunch with the guests (a meal where the bourgeois,the Church and the Army eat together is something to watch).But for me the stand-out is feminist Delphine Seyrig,with her beaming face,her preciosity and her sweet stupidity.
To say that "discreet charm" is a masterpiece is to state the obvious.Maybe Bunuel's tour de force lies in the fact that even in reality,strange things happen and the characters do not seem to be surprised and shocked.... as long as their privileges are not called into question.If you should only see one Bunuel film,you had to choose this one.But if you like it,treasures are waiting for you.
32 of 47 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?